“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a festive short story by Washington Irving circa 1820. The story takes place in a quaint town named “Tarry Town,” which has the eerie valley of Sleepy Hollow nearby. Moreover, among the townspeople, Sleepy Hollow is renowned for its superstitious and speculative happenings since the town’s creation. Most importantly, the legend of the Headless Horseman is the most prominently spoken of. The story follows a single man, Ichabod, and the conflicts he experiences externally leading to his assumed death. In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Ichabod’s characteristics of overconfidence, false expectations, and naïveté are the reasons for his demise at the end of the story.
Ichabod is overconfident, and this overconfidence contributes to a series of events that causes Ichabod to die. Ichabod’s character is narrated as the smartest man in his village of Tarry Town; he is a schoolteacher, an excellent singer, and a scholar. It is also described that Ichabod is a somewhat important individual amongst the country
wives of the village whom is considered a “gentlemanlike personage, of vastly superior taste and accomplishments”, a significant factor in further bolstering his confidence (Irving 3). These illustrations give strong context and validity in Ichabod’s character to think conceitedly about his likelihood of acquiring a mistress. Teamed with alcohol and jealousy from his rival, Brom Bones, Ichabod insists on proving himself as worthy in the eyes of Katrina Van Tassel as he does himself. Overconfidence is what drove Ichabod out into the valley to hunt down the Headless Horseman and consequently, he was surely deadened by the Horseman.
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...rvor into a psalm tune” (11). In an unfortunate turn of events, it was the action of singing his psalm tune to calm himself that triggered the Hessian Horseman to focus its attention to Ichabod. From singing the psalm tune, “the shadowy object of alarm put itself in motion… jogging along on the blind side of old Gunpowder [Ichabod’s horse]” (11). After a short time, the Horseman attacked Ichabod, leaving his whereabouts unknown; however, it is assumed he had died following the encounter.
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a tragedy about a man named Ichabod who, in light of enamoration and naïveté, pursued a speculated lusus naturae; however, was killed due to having too much confidence and fallacious expectations. The culmination of Ichabod’s overconfidence, facilitated false expectations, and genuine naivete inspired the events that led him to his tragic death.
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