Research Paper

1359 words - 5 pages

An Author and his Story
Washington Irving was one of the first Americans to make a living with only his pen. The
stories he wrote created important characters such as the headless horsemen and Rip Van
Winkle. His first major achievement to fame was his story, "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey
Crayon". Throughout his life, he has written many successful story but one that stands out would
be his short story, "The Devil and Tom Walker". Washington Irving's life experiences allow the
reader to relate to his story "The Devil and Tom Walker". Although it is one on Washington
Irving's most famous pieces of work and many readers enjoy reading it, critics disagree and has
given it poor reviews yet some believed it was Irving's best work.
Before Washington Irving become successful, he faced many hardships throughout his
life which helped him become the brilliant writing he was. Irving was born on April 3, 1783 in
New York City and was the youngest child. His parents named him after the first president,
George Washington. Even though Irving only received standard education, he enjoyed writing,
reading, and traveling. In 1815, he sailed to England in the attempt to save his family's export
business. Even with Irving's help, the business failed and Irving decided to spend his time as a
full time writer. As a full time writer, he was able to reach his full potential and wrote "The
Sketch Book"; a 32 story collection containing two of Irving's most popular tales, "Rip Van
Winkle" and "A Legend of Sleepy Hollow". He also wrote "Tales of a Traveller" which included
one of his most famous stories, "The Devil and Tom Walker". On November
Atienza 2
28, 1859 , only a few months after writing "George Washington's biography", he died of a heart

attack with a pen in his hand.
Within the Irving's short story, there are three characters who live near Boston,
Massachusetts; Tom Walker, Tom's wife, and Old Scratch. Tom Walker, the protagonist of the
story, can be described as greedy, selfish, and cold hearted. He is very hesitant to share any
fortunes with his wife and feels joy when learning about her death. Within the story, he is
described as a "meagre miserly fellow". His wife, a minor character, is no exception. She has a
fierce temper and shared nothing with her husband. The character, Old Scratch, is outside the
realms of reality and is the antagonist of the story. He represents the devil. He is described as a
dark­skinned man wearing a half Indian garb and a red belt. During the story, Old Scratch
confronts Tom offering him a luxurious lifestyle with much wealth. Tom shares this information
with his wife who immediately want him to sell his soul. Tom, who was determined not to accept
knowing that if he did, it would bring pleasure to his wife, denied the offer. Tom's wife decided
to seek Old Scratch herself and obtain the richest promised. After finding him in the Old Indian
fort, she gave Old Scratch such a hard time that he took her life. After many...

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