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The Headless Horseman Essay

1010 words - 4 pages

Headless Horseman Short stories and movies that essentially share the same plot generally have a lot of similarities and differences. In Washington Irving's work, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", the Headless Horseman is not portrayed as a violent character, but more of a spirit that is unable to rest in peace. However, this is complete contrast to the character of the same name in the film Sleepy Hollow, directed by Tim Burton. Burton transforms the character into a supernatural serial killer who has come back from the dead at the calling of a bitter lady who has given her soul for his services. Regardless of this difference, as well as others, the two characters share a few of the same traits. Of all the similarities and differences, Burton's character minimally maintains the identity of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow that Washington Irving develops in his short story. Both characters are decapitated Hessian soldiers who have been unable to rest in peace for different reasons. Irving's Horseman haunts Sleepy Hollow in search of his "head that had been carried away by a cannon-ball in some nameless battle of the Revolutionary War." (Irving 2). Burton's Horseman rides as an assassin whose lost head helps lead him to his next victim with help from the Van Tessal stepmother. This difference in motive creates a difference in the way the reader feels towards the two Horsemen. With Irving's character there is a feeling of sympathy that is aroused because the spirit cannot find peace, while Burton's character does not show this emotion. Ironically, Irving's character never recovers his head, but Burton's character does. The Headless Horseman is first introduced to both the reader and the viewer through the people of Sleepy Hollow. Burton's Horseman turns out to be a character that is able to crossover repeatedly to the physical dimension of Sleepy Hollow. Irving's character, for the most part, is just a superstition to the townspeople and never comes in physical contact with anyone. A different look to this point, in the short story, the people of Sleepy Hollow use the Horseman to explain the disappearance of the schoolteacher, Ichabob Crane. They say, "Ichabob had been carried off by the Galloping Hessian" (Irving 23). However, the story also hints that Crane was actually run out of town by a boyfriend of Katrina Van Tassel, the young lady Crane had fallen for. It seems that Irving tries to tell his reader that the Headless Horseman was only a character in a legend. Burton, on the other hand, has his Horseman repeatedly killing the townspeople of Sleepy Hollow with no indication that he is a spirit in search for his head to find peace. In the movie, Crane overcomes the Headless Horseman by sending him back to hell, which is entirely different from anything...

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