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“The Faustian-Bargain Theme Found in The Monkey’s Paw, The Playground, and The Black Lake”

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  1. Introduction
  2. There is never a free lunch
  3. Dr. Faustus and the power of temptation
    1. The temptation of the Faustian Bargain in The Monkey's Paw
    2. Characterization of the visitor as a person involved with the armed forces
    3. The monkey paw as a powerful temptation
  4. Tempting Charles Underhill
    1. Charles' desire to save his son from a bad childhood
    2. The lake as a Faustian-Bargain
    3. The formation of a dream image
  5. Conclusion

Temptation preys upon what we wish for and what we dream for. Want a flashy car: a cherry red, nitrous infused Lamborghini with leather seats, a thumping sound system and a set of wicked hydraulics? Sure it sounds good, but how possible is that on such a measly salary? Maybe, but only after working 60 hour work weeks and cutting your budget so that you're surviving on toast and ramen noodles. Do this for the next decade or more, working to the break point and sacrificing everything comfortable, and only then would you be able to afford your dream car. But that is why your dream car is still a dream; the plausibility of purchasing it is so far out of your reach that you can only imagine it and dream about one day owning it. You continue to dream and hope, thinking about your fantasy becoming true, but you are positive the closest you will get to owning a Lamborghini is when you ogle it at the dealership as you drive by. What would happen if a person just offered a Lamborghini to you? That mysterious new guy from accounting approaches you and tells you he can grant you anything you want?all you have to do, is wish for it. Would you do it? Of course you would! If someone could offer you your dream car for doing no work at all, automatically, your first response would be ?yes!?, but after a minute, you would remember nobody offers anything for free and you would ask: ?Ok, what's the catch??

[...] White who desired her son to be brought back from death, and Charles Underhill who wanted to protect his son from horrible childhood, the characters in The Black Lake desire something which allows for the Faustian-Bargain to take place. Through a supernatural power, it is the lake that tempts the characters. The lake itself becomes a Faustian-Bargain. The characters, Greg, Douggie, and Hugh are traversing the country side on their annual hunting-and- fishing trip stopping where they please and reaping the vast amounts of game to be hunted. [...]


[...] A Faustian-Bargain may not even be with a human being, but a lake, as in The Black Lake. These short stories may sound different, but all of them focus on the theme of a Faustian-Bargain, in which something mystical artifact, a child, or a body of water preys upon the character's desires with temptation. It offers a bargain: your inner most desires in exchange for your life. Surrendering your life for a wish is a steep consequence for getting what you've always desired. [...]


[...] Anyone that had a semblance of a heart, and that had experienced the evil in the paw, would not inform someone else about it. It is important that Jacobs characterized the visitor as a person involved with the armed forces. A person in the armed forces protects his soldiers and America's citizens against warring regimes a sergeant major looks for the best strategy to protect people. For Sergeant Morris, who is responsible for protecting lives, to put the White's lives in danger, shows how strong the force of the paw is. [...]

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