Washinton Irving Compare And Contrast Essay

2748 words - 11 pages

Comparison and Contrast of Washington Irving's "The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow" and "The Devil and Tom Walker". On character, setting, and conflicts. compare evils of two stories through the actions of the Devil and Horseman.

Washington Irving's purpose for writing The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Devil and Tom Walker was not merely tell tales of communities and their problems with outsiders or the uncommon, but to enlighten his readers of a different type of character that becomes more relevant as time slowly marches on. Washington Irving's similarities in these two stories' settings, characters, and conflicts tend to hint upon the evil that begins to take over the world and American Literature. He uses this evil to characterize his subjects, surroundings, and slanders.

Historical and unchanged by time, the settings and communities of these stories, and both have a controlling core of and evident evil. The opening events of The Devil and Tom Walker take place in a "treacherous forest" where "anyone but he (Tom) would have felt unwilling to linger in this lonely, melancholy place", and as he sat down, "he raked it out of the vegetable mold, and saw a cloven skull, with an Indian tomahawk buried deep in it, lay before him... It was a dreary memento of the fierce struggle that had taken place in the last footholds of the Indian wars", and the mentioning of ceremonies and murders hint to non- Christian worshipping (Irving, Devil, 352). Tom, knowing the tales of the "old Indian wars, when it was asserted that the savages held incantations here and made sacrifices to the evil spirit", surprisingly does not get frightened, but able to rest himself from his long walk (Irving, Devil, 352). The "evil spirit" mentioned, obviously means Satan, and symbolizes the form of malevolence that Irving uses to tell of the town's corruption. The "sequestered glen that has long been known by the name Sleepy Hollow" is the location for Irving's "Legend", and is a "place [that] still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of good people", and this glen's "dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander in chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head" (Irving, Legend, 1059). Sleepy Hollow, described here as guided by spells and trances, is "inviting, seductive, and as dangerous to itinerants as the islands of the Sirens or the land of...

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