When we compare Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to the 1980 television movie The Legend of Sleepy Hollow starring Meg Foster, Dick Butkus, and Jeff Goldblum, we find that while there are several similarities between the two, there are also some key differences. When we look at various characters as well as the storyline, we see those similarities and differences.
Washington Irving’s depiction of Katrina Van Tassel is that she was “a little of a coquette” and liked to mix older and modern fashions—“she wore the…stomacher of the older time; and withal a provokingly short petticoat, to display the prettiest foot and ankle” (Irving 325)—because they accentuated her best features. Add in her beauty—“a blooming lass of fresh eighteen; plump as a partridge; ripe and melting and rosy cheeked”—and it seems that she is a good candidate for being a tease. Her immense grasp of her sex is illustrated by the fact that she plays Ichabod Crane against her other suitor, Brom Bones. The true nature of Katrina’s character comes through when we see Ichabod leave the party “quite desolate and chop-fallen” (Irving 334-35) and we have to wonder as Irving did: “was her encouragement of the poor pedagogue all a mere sham to secure her conquest of his rival?” (Irving 335). It seems that all evidence points to the affirmative in Irving’s story; Ichabod is not seen again, and Katrina marries Brom.
In comparison, the movie’s version of Katrina Van Tassel is somewhat altered. Meg Foster’s Katrina seems to be a spirited woman; unlike the story, she is (eventually) quite taken with Ichabod but not interested in Brom Bones in the slightest. One example of her spiritedness is shown in the first few minutes of her introduction: Jeff Goldblum (as Ichabod Crane) falls off the schoolhouse roof and onto her. She slaps him after he apologizes and tries to help her up. After he expresses his sorrow again, her reply is, “Indeed you were, sir” (6:56-7:09). She also made sure that when she was leaving, after Ichabod learned who she is, that her father (who hired him) could fire him just as fast (7:21-7:25). An example of her coquettishness is when she ponders the possibility for a girl to have two suitors; and she is called selfish and greedy by another character because “the person that already has the best man in the county wrapped around her finger like a wedding ring shouldn’t be making google eyes at other men” (46:16-46:33); this goes to show a similarity to the written story. During the course of the movie, however, she becomes increasingly interested in Ichabod; she tells another character that she wants a “gentle man, an educated man, a quiet man” (48:12-48:19). She is in love with Ichabod, which is a contrast to the movie. The ending of their story in the movie is also not the same as the written story; we assume they live happily ever after.
Moving from Katrina to her biggest suitor (in every sense of the word), we find that Irving’s...