The Social Implications In The Legend English Literature Essay

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Before the end of the American Revolution, a child was born in 1783 (Harness 9). He was one of the original distinguished American authors to be highly acclaimed in Europe during his lifetime (Pingry 6). He composed several short stories, histories, tales of his travels, and biographies' in addition to President George Washington's (Harness). This highly acclaimed author is Washington Irving who wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle (11- 64). In his Compositions Irving, shows how a few common implications can react to the questioning of whether modifying and improving are superior to constancy and order (Theodore). As we take a brief look into Sleepy Hollow, we will see how greed effects the growth of a society and questions change and progress.

Irving's major literary composition includes The Sketch Book, which includes his legendary short stories The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle (Irving 3). In an attempt to account for Irvings widespread appeal, Haskell Springer said,

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"…his work was narrative and descriptive without being seriously analytical…his aesthetics were not tied to deeply held political or religious convictions,…In short he could produce work of delightful and moving superficial qualities in response to his readers' interests… and his own experiences" (Springer 8).

The character Ichabod Crane has became a symbol of the idealistic movement and is admired by American authors (Springer 11)."Ichabod Crane is a schoolteacher who lives in a small town in America. He likes Katrina Van Tassel, a beautiful girl who has a very rich father. Katrina liked him but she also liked the tall, strong Brom Van Brunt…." (Irving). Ichabod never totally falls in felt affection for Katrina because every time he looked at her, the only thing he saw was the money that her father had, and all the nice things that he thought unless he married her, he might not be able to achieve (Springer 14).

Ichabod, whose name means "inglorious," is a Connecticut Yankee who falls in love with the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel, not under the spell of her loveliness, but because of her father's wealth. He views the pewter, the china and silver, the mahogany furniture, and the other riches of the Van Tassel house, and "from the moment he laid eyes upon these regions of delight, the peace of his mind was at an end, and his only study was how to gain the affections of the peerless daughter of Van Tassel." In fact, Ichabod's mind even confuse love and marriage with consumption of goods; as he sees the abundance of the Van Tassel farmyard, he conjures up mental pictures: "…the pigeons were snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust …and the ducks pairing cosily in dishes, like snug married couples, with a decent competency of onion sauce (Springer 14).

Brom Van Brunt, a good-hearted person that values Katrina for she is, not by her wealth (Springer 15). Irving breaks "American Literary traditions when Brom becomes the first country yokel to get the best of an educated city slicker" (Pingry 8). "At a dance one night, Ichabod danced with Katrina while Brom sat in the corner smitten with jealousy" (Pingry 43-49). "Later the town told ghost stories, which included the tale of the headless horseman, who had been heard patrolling the country" (Pingry 46).

On his way, back home from a dance at the Van Tassel farm, Ichabod is attacked by what he thinks is a headless ghost, riding a horse. The next day, Ichabod has disappeared and the whole town looks for him, without success, and they assume he must have died. Brom and Katrina get married. Much later, a farmer discovers that Ichabod is living in New York. He had left the town because of the experience with the headless rider, who the author implies was actually Brom Van Brun (Irving).

In Irvings Rip Van Winkle, the main character Rip falls asleep in the mountains for 20 years and when he awake everything has changed (Springer 12). "…The village has expanded and strangers abound; the old drowsy tranquility has disappeared and the people have become "busy, bustling, disputations" (Springer 12).

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"The picture of the village implies that rather than gaining anything from the transformation, society has only lost everything and that Rip lost his identity" (Springer 12). "…But what really occurred to the village…it has merely experienced what virtually all of America from before Irving's day to ours has known: immigration, population boom, building boom, constantly accelerating change - in a word, progress" (Springer 13). "We have become more and more like rip as we have tried to escape into the woods and avoid progress" ( Springer 15). Terry Theodore said,

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is an endearing and charming tale full of good humor, yet it has serious social implications. It questions whether change and progress are better than stability and order….Irving sides with Katrina, who has rejected Ichabod's advances, and Brom Bones, who defeats his rival by playing on the hero's irrational fears Irving, implies that the practical man always will defeat the dreamer. With the creation of "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", even if Irving had written nothing else, he would be elevated to literary greatness, because he fashioned two great American myths that perfectly symbolized American ideals and aspirations.(5)

"What Irving did for was he showed us the value of imagination in bringing wonder and enjoyment into our logic bound lives" (Springer 11).

Works Consulted

Harness, Cheryl. "The Literary Adventures of Washington Irving." Washington D.C.: National Geographic, 2008. Print

Irving, Washington. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." The Complete tales of Washington Irving. Ed. Neider, Charles. New York: Da Capo Press, 1975. 31-56. Print

Irving, Washington. "Rip Van Winkle." The Complete tales of Washington Irving. Ed. Neider, Charles. New York: Da Capo Press, 1975. 1-16. Print

Irving, Washington. "Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." New York: The Sleepy Hollow Press, 1980. Print

Irving, Washington. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." New York: Atheneum Books, 2007. Print

Kelly, Sean. "American Idle: Washington Irving, Authorship, and the Echoes of Native American Myth in "Rip Van Winkle." Short Story 19.1 (Spring 2011): 72-87. Literary Reference Center. Web. 22 October 2012.

Theodore, Terry. "Washington Irving." Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition, (Sep. 2006):1-6. Literary Reference Center. Web. 22 October 2012.

"Washington Irving." Biography.com. A+E Networks, n.d. web. 22 Oct 2012.

Yarbrough, Scott D. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Masterplots, Fourth Edition (Nov.2010): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web. 22 October 2012.