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Irving Textual Analysis of "the Legend of Sllepy Hollow"

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Textual Analysis of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

1.) Romantic Description:

a. pg. 715 - "there is a little valley, or rather lap of land, among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it, with just a murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the occasional whistle of a quail, or tapping of a woodpecker, is almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon the uniform tranquility."

Irving describes nature as an untouchable force. He ignores the realism of nature and reveals only the beauty it holds. It is the stereotypical description of Mother Nature. Irving makes it sound so tranquil as if this place doesn't exist in this world.

c. pg 731 - "Its limbs were gnarled, and fantastic, large enough to form trunks of ordinary trees, twisting down almost to the earth, and rising again into the air.

The tree is almost created into somewhat of a creature. With the limbs twisting out and rising into the air. Irving takes ordinary earthlike objects and changes the perspective of them into imaginary matter.

2.) Avoidance of Controversy/Digressions:

a. pg 717 - "...some little, tough, wrong-headed, broad-skirted Dutch urchin, who sulked and swelled and grew dogged and sullen beneath the birch. All this he called "doing his duty by their parents;" and he never inflicted a chastisement without following it by the assurance, so consolatory to the smarting urchin, which "he would remember it, and thank him for it the longest day he had to live." When school hours were over..."

Irving constantly made fun of the Dutch, and this is one of those examples. He calls them wrong-headed and mocks their appearance by criticizing their broad-skirted dress. Then to avoid the controversy he changes the subject and goes straight into the next thing.

b. pg 728 - "The musician was an old gray headed Negro, who had been the itinerant orchestra of the neighborhood for more than half a century. His instrument was as old and battered as himself."

Here, Irving tries to avoid the subject of slavery and human rights. He tries to stay neutral on the issue. He described the black man as battered and old showing the inequality of the two races, in a sense avoiding the whole slavery situation during that time period.

3.) American Character Types:

a. pg 722- "Among these the most formidable was a burly, roaring, roistering blade, of the name of Abraham, or, according to the Dutch abbreviation, Brom Van Brunt, the hero of the country round, which rang with his feats of strength and hardihood. He was broad-shouldered and double-jointed, with short curly black hair, and a bluff, but no unpleasant countenance, having a mingled air of fun and arrogance."

In the quote above, Abraham is the stereotypical white American male of the time. He is athletic, good looking, and has an appearance of greatness. In my mind he is the type of man that is the most popular jock in high school who every guy wants to be. He is the clichй American poster boy.

b. pg 720 "Old Baltus Van Tassel was a perfect picture of a thriving, contented, liberal-hearted farmer. He seldom, it is true, sent either his eyes or his thoughts beyond the boundaries of his own farm; but within those everything was snug, happy, and well conditioned. He was satisfied with his wealth, but not proud of it; and piqued himself upon the hearty abundance, rather than the style in which he lived."

Mr. Van Tassel is the image of American prosperity. He is the self-made man and is living the American dream of happiness and fortune through his farm. He is the old, wise man of the village. Although he is wealthy, he is humble of his earnings.


a. pg 717 - "He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, hung together. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock, perched upon his spindle neck, to tell which way the wind blew. To see him striding along the profile of a hill on a windy day, with his clothes bagging and fluttering about him, one might have mistaken him for the genius of famine descending upon the earth, or some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield."

The description of Ichabod Crane is rather humorous to me. Just imagining a man containing those features is almost a joke. He is a long, long tall, skinny man with a pointy nose. I thought the funniest part was how he was described as, "the genius of famine descending upon the earth," exaggerating Icahbods scrawniness.

b. pg 717 - "When school hours were over, he was even the companion and playmate of the larger boys, and on holiday afternoons would convoy some of the smaller ones homes, who happened to have pretty sisters, or good housewives for mothers, noted for the comforts of the cupboard.

It is very amusing that Ichabod uses his students for his personal pleasures and advantages. He becomes friends with the students who happen to have attractive sisters and students whose mothers are known for being good cooks so that he could have a hearty meal. I found Ichabods slyness quite comical.

5.) Folklore and Legends:

a. pg 715 - "Some say that the place was bewitched by a high German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson."

Irving adds in a legend about and Indian chief commencing powwows in that area. These legends also add to the fabled aspect of the land and persuade the reader to believe in the result of Ichabod at the end of the story. Irving borrowed many legends of the land from other authors in his writings.

b. pg 716 - "The dominant spirit, however,



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