2/5: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving

When I saw that we will be reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, the first thing that came into my head is Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. Johnny Depp played as Ichabod Crane and I remember going crazy about that because I absolutely love Johnny Depp and consider him as one of my favorite actors!

Anyway…enough about Johnny Depp! The Legend of Sleepy Hollow represents Irving’s comic masterpiece, a ghostly tale about things that flips over in the night. The specter in question here is the mysterious Headless Horseman. It was believed that he was a Hessian trooper who lost his head in a battle. Each night he roams the countryside looking for it. The strange hero in this tale is Ichabod Crane, a traveling schoolmaster.

“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.”

Irving opens his tale by painting us a picture of the lush and charming Hudson Valley region of Sleepy Hallow near Tarry Town that holds the tale of the Hessian trooper’s ghost that supposedly roams near the churchyard. He introduces us Ichabad, a poor Connecticut Yankee who is very interested in marrying the wealthy and flirtatious Katrina Van Tassel who is the daughter of the richest man in the area. Ichabod plans to bring himself into her life and winning her hand in marriage. He arranges to teach her the singings of the psalms, letting his get the permission to visit Katrina on a regular basis. Not only is only interested in her but he also wants to acquire her hereditary wealth and sell it off. It turns out that Ichabod was not the only one in love with Katrina but Brom Bones, one of the many men that want Katrina for him. Brom Bones was known for his rowdy personality, love of pranks, and great skill at horseback riding. The two men despise each other. Ichabod was invited to a party at the Van Tassels. Katrina ends up disappointing him and dumped him and Ichabod leaves the party depressed and humiliated. On his way home, he meets the terrifying Headless Horsemen, who scared Ichabod. Next day, Ichabod’s horse return but there is no sign of Ichabod. The town looks for him but never heard of him from again in Sleepy Hallow. Some believe that Brom Bones pulled off a prank, getting Katrina all for himself but others believe that he was taken by the Headless Horsemen.

So where did Ichabod disappeared to? I believe it has to do with Brom Bones. He utilized Ichabod’s fear of the supernatural to best him and finally drive his rival off for good. After all, it was stated that neither could get the clear upper hand for Katrina’s affections. This allows the reader to assume and believe that Ichabod, despite his lack of physical prowess (when compared to Brom Bones) was able to at least successfully defend himself in some aspect from Brom Bones’ pranks and attempted attacks. This leads me to believe that Brom Bones disguised himself as the Headless Horseman in order to finally drive Ichabod off. He did not kill him, as it is stated in Irving’s story that an old farmer believed he’s seen Ichabod in another town later on.

"John Quidor - Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane - Smithsonian" by John Quidor

“John Quidor – Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane – Smithsonian” by John Quidor

Ichabod was riding back home with his horse, disappointed and in bewilderment.

How could this happen? I thought there was chance, he thought.

As he was riding back, feeling lonely as ever and thought the day could not get any worse, he hears someone riding a horse behind him. He continues riding his horse but starts to pick up the speed as the person behind him tries to approach him quickly in a very suspicious manner.

Who could it be? Ichabod questioned.

Ichabod turns around and to his surprise, it’s the Headless Horseman!

This can’t be…How is this possible?! Ichabod gasped.

He hurries his horse to run faster but was too frightened and has fallen of the horse. The next day, he was not found as his horse returned to town empty handed.

This picture illustrates the story of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It accurately portrays the Gothic atmosphere and set the readers of the mood of the story. With the use of dark shades, it conveys the idea of hopelessness as experienced by the character involved.


4 thoughts on “2/5: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving

  1. I enjoyed the painting. Do you know the year it was painted? Did you see the stamp Caroline found? They have a similar eeriness…


  2. justinalick says:

    It is fascinating to watch a character such as Ichabod Crane go through the anguish and torture that he experienced in Sleepy Hollow. Crane suffered to the personification of his fears and demonstrates a fear embodied.


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