The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow Essay, Research Paper
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The short story I have chosen to read by Washington Irving is The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This story takes place in a little village on the Hudson River which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally known as Tarry Town. The main character in the story, Ichabod Crane, who tarried in Sleepy Hollow came about for the purpose of instructing the children of the vicinity. The main point of the story began with the arrival of a Negro with an invitation to Ichabod to attend a party at the Van Tassel s mansion. After receiving the good news, Ichabod fixed up his best and only suit and borrowed a horse from Hans Van Ripper, in order to impress Mynheer Van Tassel s daughter, Katrina. He did so by dancing with her upon arriving at the party. During the dance, Brom Bones, who is a rival of Ichabod, sat brooding in the corner full of jealousy and sorely smitten with love. When the dance came to an end, Ichabod was attracted to some sager folks, who, along with old Van Tassel, were gossiping over former times about the war. All of these tales could not compare to the tales of ghosts and apparitions that had succeeded the conversation. The neighborhood of Sleepy Hollow is rich in legendary treasures of the kind. Several of the Sleepy Hollow residents were present at the Van Tassel s, sharing their wild and wonderful legends. One tale told was about old Brouwer, and how he met up with the Headless Horseman returning from his trip into Sleepy Hollow. He was galloped over bush and brake, over hill and swamp, until they reached the bridge, where the Horseman turned suddenly into a skeleton, throwing old Brouwer into the brook. This tale was followed by one of Brom Bone s. He said that on returning one night from a nearby village, he had been overtaken by this midnight trooper. This trooper had offered to race him for a bowl of punch, and as they came to the church bridge, the trooper vanished. All of these tales sunk deep into Ichabod s mind. When he was on his way home from the Van Tassel s party, all of the stories of the ghosts and goblins came crowding upon him. In order to get home, he had to pass the very place where all of those stories had taken place. As he started to approach the tree in the road, he began to whistle. The whistle was answered with a blast sweeping sharply through the dry branches. About two hundred yards from the tree, a small brook crossed the road. As he approached the stream he kicked his horse to cross the bridge over the stream, but the horse made a lateral movement instead. Soon after he regained control of the horse, and crossed the bridge the Headless Horseman through his head at him knocking him off the horse. After that all that remained was his hat, a shattered pumpkin, and the horse and saddle, but no Ichabod.
A folk-tale is a quality that governs the overall meaning of Washington Irving s short stories. The folk-tale form imposes sharp limits on character development and has three characteristics, they are 1. Stock Characters, 2. Gothicism, and 3. Humorous Tone. Irving uses all three characteristics in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Stocked or stereotyped characters are character types that appear so often, that the reader immediately recognizes their nature. The two stocked or stereotyped characters I am going to talk about are: 1. Ichabod Crane, and 2. Katrina Van Tassel. To me Ichabod Crane is a typical thin and clumsy man. But Irving saw it a little differently by saying He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head was small, and flat at the top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long nose, so that it looked like a weather cock, perched upon his spindle neck, to tell which way the wind blew. As Irving puts it, Katrina Van Tassel, Was a blooming lass of fresh eighteen, plump as a partridge, ripe and melting and rosy-cheeked as one of her fathers peaches, and universally famed not merely for her beauty, but for her vast expectations.
Gothocism is a term that describes the use in fiction of grotesque, gloomy settings and mysterious, violent, and supernatural occurrences. Washington Irving uses many examples of Gothocism in the story. Some examples are From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its in habitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of Sleepy Hollow, and its rustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys throughout all the neighboring countries. A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Another example of Gothocism that Irving uses is when he talks about the Headless Horseman. He say s It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever an anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. The ghost rides forth to the seen of the battle in a nightly quest of his head; and that rushing speed with which he passed along the Hollow, like a midnight blast. These are only two of the many uses of Gothocism in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Washington Irving uses Humorous Tone to convey his attitude toward his subject, characters, and readers. The humorous tone keeps us from taking the act seriously. The first humorous tone I came across was Suddenly he heard a groan his teeth chattered and his knees smote against the saddle. Here Irving displays a mildly humorous tone to take our minds off of the Gothic element that are going to occur.
These are the three characteristics of a folk-tale, and how Irving presents them throughout the book. By using these three characteristics Irving takes what would be just another Halloween story, and brings it to a whole other perspective.