Hollow Essay, Research Paper
Sleepy Hollow Versus “The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow”
Over time, a change has occurred from the typical horror story to a violent and bloody legend. The original short story ” The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow” is an example of a simple, yet mysterious fable in which Ichabod Crane acts as the protagonist. Ichabod becomes the victim of the feared headless horseman after believing the superstitious tales of this spirit preying in the night. The film that is supposedly based upon the tale provides a deceiving, yet compelling title of Sleepy Hollow, as one might assume that the film is a reenactment of the short story. The film and original tale differ in that the film has blood, gore and controversy while the story depicts a simple and descriptive place where an evil incident occurred. The gap between the story and the film is somewhat large, as the two are almost completely different. This gap displays how our culture has transformed the originality of the 1800’s to a gruesome and elaborate fairy tale through desensitization.
Ichabod is introduced into the short story as a pedagogue for the children of Sleepy Hollow. Although his physical appearance was somewhat unpleasant, he was adored by many, and especially by the women and children of the town. He was useful to the community as he “assisted the farmers in the light labours of their farms, helped to make hay, mended fences, took the horses to water, drove the cows from pasture, and cut wood for the winter fire.” His demeanor was one of innocent kindness and of willingness to help others.
In the film, Ichabod kept his spirit of modernity, but instead of an occupation as a schoolteacher, he was a constable in New York City. He was sent to Sleepy Hollow to solve the murders that occurred due to a series of brutal slayings by a supposed immortal being. The townspeople looked upon Ichabod as a foreigner and responded with opposition to his notions. For example, almost immediately upon his arrival, he took a dead corpse and performed an autopsy, something that was unheard of during this time period. He remained dedicated to his work, but had a hostile, almost mysterious way about him.
Why is Ichabod portrayed so different in film than in script? The answer ultimately lies in society. After watching twisted and bloody horror films, society gets hungry for something more intense, more mysterious and unpredictable, with all of the blood and gore mixed in . People get used to watching ordinary kidnappings and murders and wish for a more intense approach. This is why the original Ichabod character was not portrayed the exact same on film as he was on paper. The entertainment industry tries to keep up with this demand of society and gives to the people exactly what they are asking for: A film based upon a familiar classic tale, but twisted with mystery, confusion and massive amounts of violence.
Katrina Van Tassel was the girl Ichabod fell in love with in the story. She was described as “a blossoming lass of eighteen; plump as a partridge; ripe and melting and rosy-cheeked…” She was the girl that all of the young men were fond of. In the story she does not play an important part; she is mainly known for her flirtatiousness toward the men around her and for being a wealthy, spoiled farmer’s daughter. But, in the film, Katrina is a devious, almost evil girl with a seemingly hidden agenda. She cannot be the “good girl” as depicted in the story because society would not be satisfied with that. She could not play the exact role that the story describes – a good, yet fun and flirty girl – since people are always wanting more excitement. This is where Katrina’s evil nature makes the film more exciting by adding more twists and turns – to hold the attention of the audience.
The “And they all lived happily ever after” concept is how people want stories and films to end. No one likes to watch a film or read a story with a dead hero. In the original narrative, Ichabod portrayed the hero. As a well liked gentleman with a kind and helping heart, it would seem odd for one to have opposition against him. Through a series of events, Ichabod was never again seen after his encounter with the headless horseman. Added to the unsuspecting plot in the film was the “happily ever after” theme. The protagonist eventually killed the antagonist and he lived happily ever after. The film seems much more ideal for society today through the transformation of a fable into a fairy tale.
But why should the film be transformed to fit society’s changes? By all means, the story itself is simple, with a clear plot and plenty of descriptions to visualize. However, the details given were not bloody and grossly entangled within. There were no such descriptions of blood and gore, but rather a clear account of the encounter between Ichabod and the headless horseman. The film on the other hand, gives gory detail after detail to the fight scenes and encounters with Ichabod and other characters as they try to escape the headless horseman.
The short story contains a moral, which is revealed at the very end by the storyteller. Its intent was to prove “That there is no situation in life but has its advantages and pleasures, provided we will but take a joke as we find it: That therefore, he that runs races with goblin troopers, is likely to have rough riding of it: Ergo, for a country schoolmaster to be refused the hand of a Dutch heiress, is a certain step to high preferment in the state.” If the film were to have a moral to its story, it may read something like this: ” Kill the antagonist and live happily ever after.”