The Legend of sleepy Hollow




The Legend of sleepy Hollow


The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving is an American adaptation of horror literature published in 1820. The literature talks of a story of Ichabod Crane and futile efforts in trying to win the heart of Katrina Van Tassel as well as marry her. Having transferred from his home in New York, he links to the state of Connecticut to become the schoolmaster of the entire village. The town is well renowned for its haunting and ghost past as well as the atmosphere right from the Dutch settlement. The competition with Abraham Bones for Katrina’s hand intensifies as Bones decides to play a series of calculated pranks on Crane. The failure to secure her hand in marriage leads to Crane leaving and encountering the haunted spots of the ghost pasts and had to fight for his life after goading into a hollow from the plow horse. He disappeared leaving Bones to marry Katrina as the mystery behind the ghost, which scared him off. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving fits into the genre of a ghost story.


A ghost story can take any form of drama, fiction, or thriller in its development and outlay of the plot. In addition, there has to be a premise of a ghost or characters that enable the depiction in its delivery as well as the belief in them. Distinct summoning of the ghost character may appear and take form of a magical accord or summoning, depending on the intention of the development. Linked to the idea of a ghost story is the aspect of a supernatural entity, which follows that of a haunting aspect, tied to a person, object, or place (Goldstein, Grider, and Thomas 146). The Legend of Sleepy Hollow qualifies as a ghost story by the denotation of the haunting in Sleepy Hollow town as expressed by the stories ion a fictitious manner. More so, the plot’s development is in line with the summoning of the ghost character especially when Crane encountered it after the harvest party at Tassel’s homestead. Subsequent delivery of its characterization on to his face added up to the development of a fictitious nature.  

            The element of fear is essential in development of a ghost story. It is by far the most important factor of horror literature. As part of the creative requirements, the determination of fear towards the audience’s beliefs and reservations accounts for the success of the ghost story (Prohaszkova 4). The antagonist and protagonists’ debacle can be strengthened by use of fear to capture imagination and develop a reaction. In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, fear was a central element of delivery as depicted by Crane’s character. The encounter at the hollow where he saw a headless human form on top of a cloaked rider ensures that the fear factor is within. In a flash, it scares off Crane leaving him to fight for his life as he goaded his temperament. Without hesitation, the character follows Crane and shockingly places the severed head after rearing his horse onto his sight. Crane’s expression and vanishing efforts from the town deliver the held fear even among the audience after the encounter.

             The element of fear was maintained in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow story as means of ensuring the ghost story is relevant during the time of its publishing. Washington Irving’s delivery of horror literature adaptation was released at the time of Halloween. At such an occasion, the traditional marking of it is witnessed by watching or listening to horror stories to effect an environment of fear, but to enhance the celebratory mood (Goldstein, Grider, and Thomas 168). Most of the costumes and denotations of accompaniment have the element of horror undertones and literature. The story therefore brought out the fear factor at the depicted time to increase the entertainment value especially with the narration of Bone on haunted spots. During the narration by Bones during Van Tassel’s harvest party, fear element is evoked through legendary comments of ghosts as witnessed by the locals and other tales of their conquests. It adds to the utilization of horror as ghost story requirement.

            A ghost story enlists the combination of derived fear into the element of surprise. In most cases, the latter is an experience aimed at the audience as witnessed and delivered by the characters too. Prohaszkova (6) argues that imagination is best rendered by the development in order to capture the audience at the least expected time and cause the fear into a surprising moment. In basic form, the expansion of fear contributes to the surprise established. In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow story, Crane was disappointed at not proposing to Katrina after the harvest party. When he encountered the lightening-stricken tree, he met up with the cloaked rider. The eerie silence generates the fear, which leads to the moment of surprise when he realized it was headless. In addition, more surprise was delivered when Crane came face to face with its head after clambering over the bridge.

            Accompaniment of suspense in horror literature symbolizes the es3ence of a ghost story. It creates a feeling of fascination with pleasure combined with mixed excitement and tension. It follows the precedence of the set surprise by the audience as well as deliveries from the characters at particular instances. The origin is derived from delivery of fear at the initial basis of the story’s themes. In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow story, suspense is a common feature of the plot development. It enables the breaking of monotony and increasing the entertainment value. At the scene of Brom’s narration of haunted posts, the surprised reactions, and explained emotions by the harvest party’s members enables delivery of suspense. The audience is left in tension as to the next occurrence since it was narrated at night. It gives significance to the ghost story requirements as to the enabled us of flash, brimstone as well as fire.

            In different genres of literature, an underlying resonance of mystery is embraced. According to ghost stories, it is a fundamental element enabled in the development of the story’s plot, meaning, and lessons. The ease of anticipation as to the next occurrence in literature creates monotony and may not deliver an entertainment value (Prohaszkova 9). Additionally, the audience loses interest with the lack of this element. In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, mystery surrounded the characterization of the leading role of Crane. It was unpredictable on his move towards Sleepy hollow town at the beginning. In addition, escaping the cloaked rider and its head delivered on his face creates the puzzle. It was expected that he could return to Pursue Katrina, only for him to vanish off the town without any knowledge or explanation. The only clues left were his trampled saddle, shattered pumpkin and discarded hat. The story is maintained mystery of the true character behind the cloaked rider adds to the entertainment value, as Bone is the suspect.  

             An elaborate ghost story has an element of a spoiler, developed in the characterization of themed aspects of the literature. In addition, it serves to act as a lesson to the audience. The identities can be kept secret, much to the audience needs of deciphering the true character. Goldstein, Grider, and Thomas (212) note that in most cases, the guess of the audience is actually the right one, but is availed towards the end. In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow story, the competition between Crane and Bone on Katrina’s hand in marriage had an underlying message especially to the events that befell Crane towards the end. When Crane faced the cloaked rider and had its face close up at the river, it was not known on the identity. It made Crane flee from the town since the experience was frightening to him. As per the earlier noted rivalry between crane and Bone, the audience is left to point at the latter for enabling the mystery. In addition, Bone went on to Marry Katrina only after Crane had left the town of Sleepy Hollow.


The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving fits into the genre of a typical ghost story, from its development, narration, characterization and enabled lesson. The depiction of rivalry between Crane and Bone as encompassed through a haunted town from the past utilizes the elements of horror literature. The story uses fear, suspense, mystery, surprise, and denoted spoiler to influence the proceedings as shown by the characters. In addition, it provides for entertainment throughout.

Works Cited

Goldstein, Diane, Sylvia Ann Grider, and Jeannie Banks Thomas. Haunting Experiences: Ghost in Contemporary Folklore. Logan: Utah State UP, 2007. Print.

Prohaszkova, Viktoria. “The Genre of Horror.” American International Journal of Contemporary research 2. 4 (2012): 1-11. Print.

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