Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Allegory of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

Allegorical effect and allegorical meaning- both represent how deeper meaning you can find out from a text. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” can somewhat be described as an allegory. Its characters and themes provide a deeper meaning that can be dissected in to little pieces. The story itself is set in 1790 in the Dutch settlement. New settlers are seen to be coming in from other countries. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow tells the story of Ichabod Crane who is a lean, lanky, and extremely superstitious schoolmaster from Connecticut. Another character depicted in this story is Brom Bones who is called to be the town rowdy. They both like Katrina Van Tassel who is the only daughter of a wealthy farmer.

To dig down a little further, the town was basically filled with Dutch settlers. Just as we would be wondering how something new might fit with us- Brom Bones worried about the same cause. He never liked Ichabod Crane. Brown Bones always made conspiracies against him to scare him off the town. In addition Brom Bones tells us of a story of the headless horseman that comes out at night in his horse to look for a replacement for his face. Hearing at this Ichabod was really nervous. From this we can conclude that one of the main themes of this storyline is superstition.

With Ichabod’s mixture of book-learning and superstitions, Ichabod may be represented as a typical American during that period of time. As Crane was leaving a Halloween party from the Van Tassel’s house, he is pursued by the headless horseman who is supposedly believed to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper who had lost his head in a nameless battle of the Revolutionary War. At every step Ichabod takes, he is afraid and terrified as he tries to make it to his house but unfortunately Irving leaves us to thinking wheather he got scared and ran away from the town or he actually got killed by the headless horseman?

On the other hand, Brom Bones is the complete opposite of Ichabod. Where Ichabod was described as “tall but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves...” (p.967), Brom Bones was described as large, strong, rough, humorous and good-natured. Allegorically, Ichabod Crane is an outsider and in a way Brom Bones is afraid that this “outsider” might come to his town and ruin his life. He was worried about one fact that Ichabod might be successful in alluring his love Katrina. Ichabod’s character is portrayed as a greedy character because he wanted to marry Katrina, not because he had feelings for her, but because she was the only daughter of a wealthy, and also due to the fact that there is always plenty of food on the table of Van Tassel’s home.

It is believed at the end, that the headless horseman could have been Brom Bones himself to scare off Ichabod but again why would Bones disguise himself and tell himself to be the headless horseman? Maybe he was thinking betterment of his country? Or maybe he was afraid of really losing his Katrina? In all, Crane is depicted as the American fellow who is new into the town trying to learn and adapt to new things who mostly get along with everyone, while Brom Bones is the arrogant, and aggressive one who wanted everything to be done his way or no way kind of like the British settlers. In between both of these, Karina seems to be depicted as the beautiful land that everyone wants to lay their hands upon but she is so hard to get. She tries to lead them both on but at the end eventually ends up marrying Brom Bones.

Some advantages of analyzing this story this way is that we as the audience can look at the real meaning that the author is trying to convey to us. Yes it’s just a story but if we look deep in to this story, we see a deeper meaning that is helpful in understanding the kind of writing and historical meaning behind it. The specific time period when Irving wrote this story depicts a speacial meaning which when we break it down into pieces we get the actual meaning. The legend of Sleepy Hollow transitions between the strong and the weak, and from the old to the new. Although some disadvantage might be, as I have mentioned earlier, Brom Bones after all could have been the headless horseman himself?...and if he was then that would mean the bad actually took over the good. In that case the whole moral of the story might be differentiated. In all, this allegorical meaning is just one simple one…there might be tons of others. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was a legend and it will stay a legend. And most importantly, analyzing and studying the allegorical term behind this story actually helps to understand the story better!

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