Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The legend of Sleepy Hollow is a fictitious short story by Washington Irving. This story tells of the disappearance of Ichabod Crane who is the main character in the story. Ichabod Crane was a Connecticut native who came to Sleepy Hollow as a teacher. It is a story about two men, Ichabod Crane and Brom Van Brunt who both desired the same woman named Katrina Van Tassel. They were both competing for Katrina’s affection and hand in marriage. Katrina was the only daughter of a substantial wealthy farmer named Baltus Van Tassel. The movie Sleepy Hollow is a Hollywood movie by Tim Burton portraying the Irving’s original story. Although the movie and the original story have the same foundation, the story line differs as it continues. In this paper, I will compare and contrast the movie Sleepy Hollow and the original story the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I will discuss the setting, plot, themes, conflict and symbolism as portrayed in both the movie and the story.
The movie and the original story had the same setting, a natural setting. They took place in a town at Sleepy Hollow. In the original story, the town is described as quiet, with trees, birds and water bodies and as one is watching the movie, the town is also portrayed in the same way as the story describes it. The story was changed into modern day Hollywood in the movie and the setting is changed in a way compared to the story where the setting is traditional. Both Ichabod and Brom attended a party at the Van Tassel’s. In both the settings, people from Sleepy hollow believed in superstition.
In both the movie and the original story, Katrina is the daughter of a wealthy farmer Baltus Van Tassel and her beauty is portrayed in both. The two men, Ichabod and Brom were interested in Katrina’s affection both in the movie and the story. In the movie, Brom is killed while in the original story, we see Brom pursuing Crane and then marrying Katrina.
There are many similarities and differences in the characterization in the movie and the original story. The character names were maintained in both even though most of the written story by Irving’s on the characters is missing in the movie. Ichabod is still the main character in both but Ichabod’s portrayal in the movie is totally different with what is in the story because his character is differently interpreted. In the movie, there is an added scenario of Katrina’s step mother, a character that is not in the original story. The movie shows her controlling the headless horseman as it goes around beheading people (Sleepy Hollow).
In addition to characterization, in the original story, Ichabod Crane was a tall gangly school master who taught at a local school, he loved food and was extremely superstitious (Irving 970). Comparably, in the movie, Ichabod’s career is changed to a detective and a cynical scientist who travelled to sleepy Hollow to solve the mysteries in the town. They both contrast the main characters beliefs since in the original story, he was extremely superstitious and believed there were ghosts and demons while in the movie, he is portrayed as adamant and discards any superstitious ideas. The story tells us how Ichabod loved sitting by fire with widows as they told ghost and demons stories which he believed in and even fought with them on his way home in the dark but the movie disputes his belief in the supernatural.
In both the movie and the story, the love interests between Katrina and the two men appears but ironically, the end of what happened is very different. In the original story, Brom pursued Ichabod pretending to be the headless horseman and sent him off after the autumn party and later he married Katrina (Irving 982). In contrast to the movie, Ichabod left with Katrina and married her, this are two contrasting stories. Moreover, the interpretation of the headless horseman is very different in the two because in the story, Brom is seen to be the headless horseman in disguise in order to send Ichabod away so that he may stand a chance of marrying Katrina. Comparably in the movie, a witchcraft story of Katrina’s Stepmother is created to explain the headless Hessian.
The symbol of the headless horseman which symbolizes a demon is seen in both the movie and the story. The important tree is in both but named differently. In the movie it is called the tree of the dead while in the original story; it is the major andrals tree which separates the dead and the living. Another symbol that is seen in the two is the symbol of the pumpkin which signifies evil spirits. We see Ichabod being chased by Brom and hit with the pumpkin twice. There is also a symbol of the bridge, this symbol is in both stories and it symbolizes the connection between the land of the living and the dead. Katrina Van Tassel is a symbol of youth and beauty in both since she is portrayed as beautiful both by the narrator and the movie. In addition, there is thick and impenetrable woods in both settings which symbolize the kingdom of mystery and evil since people were haunted with demons and evil spirits in sleepy hollow. Baltus Van Tassel and the daughter were a symbol of abundant wealth in both the original story and the movie that’s why we see Ichabod really fighting to marry Katrina in order to acquire their wealth.
The main theme in both stories is the imagination theme. In the original story, Ichabod was convinced that there are ghosts. That is why we even see him being tormented on his way back home in the dark. In the movie, the people believed in ghosts especially the headless horseman ghost that was killing people and Katrina’s step mother’s witchcraft. The theme of natural and supernatural is also depicted in the stories where there was a natural setting. The people loved ghost stories and they feared them. The also believed that ghosts haunted certain areas. There is a theme of conflict in the stories. Ichabod desired to marry Katrina but Brom stood in his way. They were both interested in Katrina.
Both stories leave us with questions to ponder on what really happened. Even though there are many similarities in both the story and the movie, many ideas differ from characterization and the explanation on how the love interests between the three characters ended. One cannot be sure whether Ichabod survived or died but according to my point of view, I believe Ichabod was able to escape.
Sleepy Hollow. Dir. Tim Burton. Perf. Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien. Paramount, 2000. DVD.
Irving Washington. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. 5th ed. Vol. 1. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998. 965-85. Print.