American Gothic in Sleepy Hollow, Ligeia and They Got a Hell of a Band Essay

American Gothic in Sleepy Hollow, Ligeia and They Got a Hell of a Band Essay

Length: 2172 words (6.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

American Gothic in Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Poe's Ligeia and Stephen King's You Know They Got a Hell of a Band

    America is haunted, by headless horsemen and bloody battles, by addiction and a self gratifying obsession with immortality. America has a long-standing tradition with the gothic, and some of our most widely recognized authors, such as Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King, a more recent author borrowed from popular literature, utilize it frequently if not wholly in their writing. The gothic is an intrinsic part of our national identity, inhabiting our folklore, our literature, and influencing the way in which we view our celebrities and ultimately, ourselves.

In his commentary on the gothic, Nightmare on Main Street, Mark Edmunson offers his take on the relationship between national identity and the form:

Unsentimental, enraged by gentility and high-mindedness, skeptical about progress in any form, the Gothic mind is antithetical to all smiling American faiths. A nation of ideals, America has also been, not surprisingly, a nation of hard disillusionment, with a fiercely reactive Gothic Imagination. (4-5)

There is much to American Gothicism. It lies deeply in the conscious awareness of the culture. Its roots are as diverse as the witch trials and the knowledge that one race of people committed genocide against another in order to obtain the land where our most illustrious universities and homogenous strip malls now sit. The character of America is in itself a gothic one. We hold aloft one set of ideas about freedom and equality, while graciously looking the other way when the savage hypocrisy that keeps the daily functions of life on an even keel rears its ugly ...

... middle of paper ... beneath the surface of our every day realities.

Works Cited

Edmunson, Mark. Nightmare on Main Street. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Lauter, Paul, et al., eds. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 3rd ed. Vol 1. New York: Haughton Mifflin Co., 1997.

Irving, Washington. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Lauter et al. 1354-1373.

Poe, Edgar Allan. "Ligeia." Lauter et al. 1450-1461.

Ringe, Donald A. American Gothic: Imagination and Reason in Nineteenth-Century Fiction. Lexington KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 1982.

Savoy, Eric. "The Face of the Tenant: A Theory of American Gothic." American Gothic: New Interventions in a National Narrative. Ed. Robert K. Martin et al. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 1998. 3-19.

White, Craig. Lecture. University of Houston-Clear Lake. Clear Lake, TX, 6 March. 2001


Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow

- Comparing Tim Burton’s "Sleepy Hollow" with Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” In examining Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” alongside Tim Burton’s film adaption of the story, titled “Sleepy Hollow,” a number of fascinating similarities and differences emerge. Though elements of the characters and settings of Burton’s film borrow heavily from Irving’s text, the overall structuring of the film is significantly different, and representations of various elements are crucially re-imagined....   [tags: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow]

Powerful Essays
3239 words (9.3 pages)

American Gothic Compare and Contrast Essay

- What do you think of when you hear the words American Gothic. If you thought of death, heartbreak, loneliness, then you are correct. The writing period of American Gothic was one that people decided to write about the other side of the happy endings. the heart breaks and the funerals and the thought of being lonely forever. They tell you about the reality of things and what the truth is, how things really happened and it doesn’t sugar coat anything. In “A Rose for Emily” Emily becomes a sad and depressed person who will do something completely unexpected....   [tags: Death, Heartbreak, Loneliness, Gothic]

Powerful Essays
936 words (2.7 pages)

Blackness and Gothic depictions in American Literature Essay

- American writers have expressed their political and social views through their writing by attempting to establish a voice separate from Britain’s. Their fear of individual and national failure and their thirst for power consumes them and is evident in their writing. Washington Irving and Herman Melville involve the occupation of lawyers and Justices to bring in a patriotic element to influence residents of the young country as a way to share their concerns and inspire ambition. Their usage of metaphors and metonymy subtly convey a message of hope to white residents while, deflating the optimism of the soon to be freed slaves....   [tags: American Literature]

Powerful Essays
1681 words (4.8 pages)

The Changing of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Essay

- The Changing of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow         "Once upon a time" is the predictable beginning of a fairy tale and "happily ever after" is the ending. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving is a classical myth that defies the conventional standards of a fairy tale. Set in a valley in New England, It's a gothic tale of mystery and suspense that bears no definite ending surrounding the myth of the "Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow" (Heath 1355). The original text created by Irving was intended for the mature reader, a reader who could understand a sense of irony, had knowledge of history, and taste....   [tags: Legend Sleepy Hollow]

Powerful Essays
2577 words (7.4 pages)

The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow Essay

- Many evenings during the winter, Ichabod spent with the old Dutch wives. They would tell ghost stories as well as other super natural beings and demons while sitting by the fire. There was a certain story that was never left out, the legendary Headless Horseman, or sometimes known as the Hessian of the Hollow. The story went on that there was a soldier who with a cannon ball had gotten his head shot off and since roamed through Sleepy Hollow looking for his lost head while on his horse. The Headless Horseman has a jack-o-lantern that sits in replacement of his head....   [tags: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane]

Powerful Essays
1158 words (3.3 pages)

Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Essay

- Rather than attempt to dissect the works of a more obscure writer I've decided to go with America's first well known and widely respected author, Washington Irving. Washington's story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is well known among my peers, but I can accurately assume far less have bothered to read it. I am sure most are familiar with the many movies and cartoon knockoffs the Headless Horseman has spawned. They shall not fret however, as I will explore this literary classic for thy dear lackadaisical MTV generation....   [tags: Irving Sleepy Hollow Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1374 words (3.9 pages)

The Search for America in Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

- The Search for America in Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow        In the early to mid-1800's, Washington Irving was an immensely popular writer heralded as one of the 'great' American writers.  Irving's importance lies especially in "Rip Van Winkle" and " The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," the sketches in which he creates the vision of the alternate America(n).  His critique of American society through his main characters-Rip and Ichabod-and the towns in which they live gives shape to an America not usually acknowledged by his contemporaries, and thus crucial to American literary studies today.  J....   [tags: Legend Sleepy Hollow Essays]

Powerful Essays
3268 words (9.3 pages)

Contemporary Rural America Captured in Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

- Contemporary Rural America Captured in Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Most Americans probably believe our times are different from Washington Irving’s era. After all, almost 200 years have passed, and the differences in technology and civil liberties alone are huge. However, these dissimilarities seem merely surface ones. When reading “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” I find that the world Irving creates in each story is very familiar to the one in which I grew up....   [tags: Legend Sleepy Hollow Essays]

Powerful Essays
1761 words (5 pages)

Emptiness in The Hollow Men Essay

- Emptiness in The Hollow Men      After Eliot had published The Waste Land, he felt as though he had not been able to fully convey the sense of desperation and emptiness in that work. Beginning with "Doris’s Dream Songs" and "Eyes I Last Saw in Tears," he explored these themes, eventually uniting all such poems in The Hollow Men. The end product is a work that, unlike The Waste Land and its ultimate chance for redemption, has only the indelible emptiness of the hollow men as its conclusion. The hollow men are those who, in life, did not act on their beliefs; they resisted any action at all, and as a result stagnate eternally in "the Shadow," a land in between heaven and hell, completely i...   [tags: Hollow Men Essays]

Powerful Essays
2831 words (8.1 pages)

The Romantic American Male in Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans and Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow

- Masculinity of the Romantic American Male in Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans and Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans and Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow are valuable examples of literary heavyweights of the Romantic era, but in addition, can also be used to chart sociological changes within the male gender during pre-Romantic and Romantic years. But because neither Cooper nor Irving’s works should be distanced from their cultural backdrops when considering the socially reflective nature of their work, exploring basic historical conditions surrounding the changing concepts of masculinity can serve as a useful move....   [tags: Legend of Sleepy Hollow Essays]

Powerful Essays
3381 words (9.7 pages)