The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving

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Information about The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving

Published on February 25, 2014

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An analysis on The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving

The Author: Washington Irving • An American Author and editor • was born in New York City on April 3, 1783. • He was one of eleven children born to Scottish-English immigrant parents, William Irving, Sr. and Sarah. • He was named Washington after the hero of the American revolution (which had just ended) George Washington, and attended the first presidential inauguration of his namesake in 1789

• Irving achieved international fame for his fictional works, including the stories Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, as well as for his biographies and historical writings. • Irving served as the United States ambassador to Spain and helped to promote international copyright before his death in 1859. • Irving died of a heart attack in 1859, eight months after completing his significant biographical series on George Washington. Appropriately enough, Irving was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Romanticism: Romantic Period in America 1828-1865. 1. Belief in natural goodness of man, that man in a state of nature would behave well but is hindered by civilization.   2. Sincerity, spontaneity, and faith in emotion as markers of truth. 3. Belief that what is special in a man is to be valued over what is representative; delight in self-analysis.

4.Nature as a source of instruction, delight, and nourishment for the soul;  return to nature as a source of inspiration and wisdom; celebration of man’s connection with nature; life in nature often contrasted with the unnatural constraints of society. 5. Affirmation of the values of democracy and the freedom of the individual. 6. Aspiration after the sublime and the wonderful, that which transcends mundane limits. 

ROMANTIC                                 NONROMANTIC/CLASSICAL             Emotional                       Reasonable and Practical             Individualistic                  Public Responsibility             Revolutionary                   Conservative             Loves Solitude & Nature         Loves Public, Urban Life             Fantasy/Introspection          External Reality            The Particular                          The Universal             Subjective Perception             Objective Science             Right Brain                          Left Brain             Satisfaction of Desire           Desire Repressed            Organic                                Mechanical            Creative Energy/Power         Form            Exotic                                  

• American Romantic literature. • we learn how Washington Irving uses an allegory with symbols to create a moral tale about greed while incorporating the supernatural theme.

• 'The Devil and Tom Walker' is not as well known. • However, the story's plot is based on a very famous German legend about a man called Faust, who makes a deal with the Devil in order to gain knowledge and wealth. • Irving creates a similar experience for Tom Walker through the use of allegory and symbolism.

Characters • Tom Walker, the story's main character, is a miser, which means he rarely spends money even when he should. He doesn't give anything to anyone, and that includes his wife.

• Tom's wife is as miserly as he is but with a temper. The story explains that she is regularly verbally abusive, and the townspeople suspect she is even physically abusive toward Tom.

• Old Scratch is given several names in the story, including wild huntsman and black woodsman. He is the Devil; described as a black man, but neither Negro nor Indian. He has a dirty, soot-covered face and carries an axe. Keep in mind that he is a physical character in the story, like a person with supernatural powers.

Moral, Allegory And Symbols Moral: Irving wants us to see that greed and moral corruption leads us down that wrong path. • use of a literary device:  allegory and  symbols

• The characters themselves are symbolic. • Devil = temptation  • Tom and his wife represent greed. • Later in the story, Tom symbolizes hypocrisy when he is attending church but still collecting mortgages.

• swamp  = a shortcut (an 'ill-chosen' route/ figurative wrong path) =shortcut to obtaining the wealth he wanted • The Indian fort  = a representation of hell. • Tom's Bible  = chance for salvation

SOURCES • • • • • •

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