Term Paper: Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Pages: 4 (1474 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Irving puts it even better:

Besides, there is no encouragement for ghosts in most of our villages, for, they have scarcely had time to finish their first nap, and turn themselves in their graves, before their surviving friends have travelled away from the neighborhood; so that when they turn out at night to walk their rounds, they have no acquaintance left to call upon. This is perhaps the reason why we so seldom hear of ghosts except in our long-established Dutch communities (Irving 66).

There is no sense of foreboding in Sleepy Hollow, except for Ichabod's own foreboding about his late night jaunts through the woods, and these ghosts seem to belong in the setting of Sleepy Hollow, where they would not belong anywhere else.

It is not difficult to believe that any self-respecting ghost would want to spend eternity in Sleepy Hollow, because the area contains ample food, jovial people, and just enough belief in fantasy and the fantastic to accept the ghost's existence. Superstitious people like Ichabod are just what ghosts need to survive, and there were plenty of superstitious people in Sleepy Hollow, or they would not have accepted Ichabod's disappearance so quickly and easily. Again, in another location, this probably would not have been possible, but in Sleepy Hollow, the people just shrugged and hoped Ichabod did not suffer too much.

The stories of Brouwer, of Bones, and a whole budget of others, were called to mind; and when they had diligently considered them all, and compared them with the symptoms of the present case, they shook their heads, and came to the conclusion that Ichabod had been carried off by the Galloping Hessian. As he was a bachelor, and in nobody's debt, nobody troubled his head more about him; the school was removed to a different quarter of the Hollow, and another pedagogue reigned in his stead (Irving 86).

In another location, more effort might have been put into locating Ichabod, and the townspeople would probably have discovered he had run off in his shame. However, in another location, the enduring legacy of the Headless Horseman would not have endured in the first place, and so Ichabod and his belief in fantasy would not have endured, either.

Thus, author Irving chose the perfect setting for his short story. Sleepy Hollow was just ideal enough to be believable, and believable enough to be ideal. The people were just like you and me - just a little more superstitious perhaps. The attractive location was full of natural beauty, which made it all the more astounding that so many supernatural events could occur there. However, this is just where they should occur. The story would not have been the same if it had been set in a city, or in a gloomy and foreboding place, because the story's ending would have been anticipated, and Ichabod's fate would have been known long before the end. Idyllic Sleepy Hollow was the perfect setting for these unusual events, just because it was so perfect, and so blessed. Ichabod's disappearance was not unsettling, it was simply accepted, and that is part of the charm of the story. Ichabod wanted his disappearance to go unnoticed, and that would only be possible in a place like Sleepy Hollow, where life seemed perfect, and the residents simply accepted the unexplainable.

It is just as easy to see why spirits might want to spend the rest of their lives in somewhere special such as Sleepy Hollow. Why wouldn't they? The people seemed to shrug their shoulders at the spirits, and the spirits had found a beautiful and peaceful place to haunt forever. If Ichabod chose to leave because of his embarrassments, it is easy to see why the spirits would choose to stay - there was no one there to chase them away.

In conclusion, Sleepy Hollow was the ideal setting for this book for any number of reasons. At first, the setting seemed incongruous to the story, but as the story progressed, Washington Irving skillfully wove in details of the people, the place, and the circumstances that showed Sleepy Hollow was a decidedly perfect place, and the ideal setting for a whimsical ghost story.

Works Cited

Irving, Washington, and Arthur Keller. The Angler: Rural Life in England; Legend of Sleepy Hollow; The Devil and Tom Walker;The Voyage Westminster Abbey; Stratford-On-Avon… [END OF PREVIEW]

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