"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", "Rip Van Winkle", "The Devil and Tom Walker", and "The Specter Bridegroom" by Washington Irving.

Essay by BoyceManHigh School, 11th gradeA+, February 2004

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Washington Irving, Comparison of 4 short stories

Throughout four of Washington Irving's short stories, characters manipulate the beliefs and superstitions of others for self-beneficence. A predominant sub-theme in these stories is romanticism. The four stories that will be discussed are "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", "Rip Van Winkle", "The Devil and Tom Walker", and "The Spectre Bridegroom." There are clearly underlying aspects that seem to coincide in all of these stories. Though the author, Washington Irving, was mainly seen as a factual writer, these stories portray him much differently. He shows the capability and creativity of his mind through these pieces, which lean more towards fiction and imaginary happenings, as opposed to realistic occurrences.

These stories of Irving's, which stray away from his usual, deal with paranormal and mythological instances. Ideas of medieval castles, the undead, the devil, prodigious children, romanticism and nature, and even coma-like slumbers are brought about.

The fact that these selective few writings are so different from his typical stories show that Irving, once perceived as an ordinary 19th century author with likeness of Nathaniel Hawthorne or Edgar Alan Poe, was quite different and imaginative in the method of his madness.

The story "Rip Van Winkle" is about a man, Rip Van Winkle. Rip is a kind of man who does not like to tend to his own problems. He is a procrastinator. He would much rather help a complete bunch of strangers with their problems as opposed to dealing with his own. One day Rip ventures into the Catskill Mountains with his dog and his gun to escape labor on the farm and dealing with his wife. When he tired of shooting squirrels, Rip began descending down from the top the mountain when he heard something whisper his name. Upon...