“Analysis of Ichabod’s Gluttonous Greed in Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
From the dawn of American society to present-day, Americans have been characterized by their consumptive attitudes, mainly stemming from the constant, gluttonous drive to obtain more money and power. This gluttonous greed appears in countless literary works, especially in works such as Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Although “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a light-hearted story, told in a humorous manner, it does not paint the most flattering picture of humanity, especially in American culture. In Irving’s short story, Ichabod Crane represents the ever-expanding concept of greed in modern society. Ichabod barrels through the quiet, solemn town of Sleepy Hollow with every intention to gain the riches of the land in lieu of it’s effect on the citizens of Sleepy Hollow. Throughout the story, Irving supplies numerous examples that describe Ichabod’s insatiable thirst for land, money and the heart of the town’s beautiful, “plump”(5) coquette, Katrina Van Tassel. At first glance, Ir...
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...y, and lives of countless animals.
Though Ichabod received much pleasure from doing “ample justice to every dainty”(11) he delighted, his ultimate failure highlights the fleeting pleasure of overconsumption. Ichabod’s defeat and flight from Sleepy Hollow are, in a sense, a victory for the benevolent in modern society. Irving’s representation of Ichabod’s short-sighted, irresponsible covetousness perfectly segue Ichabod’s journey to disappointment and a lack of the very wealth and beauty he set out to obtain. Through this, Irving demonstrates that the American lust for excess riches and beauty can lead to a life of emptiness because an insatiable appetite can be endless and ultimately unfulfilling. A culture of extreme individualism and profit-seeking has, in a sense, frayed our social fabric. To reverse the decline, we must discard the notion that greed is good.
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