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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow


by Washington Irving

Hans Van Ripper

Character Analysis

"Choleric Old Dutchman" (1.34)

Hans Van Ripper is an ornery old fellow, that's for sure. We get the feeling that he's a lot to handle. And if he's anything like his horse Gunpowder (which we're led to believe is the case), he has "the lurking devil in him" (1.34) and is stubborn and crotchety, to boot.

Did we mention he's Ichabod's current landlord? A match made in heaven, right? Wrong. Hans couldn't care less about Ichabod. In fact, he cares more about his saddle than he does about his tenant (1.69). Just more proof that Ichabod is a pretty lonely guy.


He may not play a big role in "Sleepy Hollow," but Hans spices up the end of the story with a bit of good old anti-intellectualism. (That's a way-too-long word for hating on smart people and schooling.)

When he discovers Ichabod's beloved books, he burns them. Oh, and he decides to take his kids out of school because, you know, nothing good ever came out of book-learning. We assume he wouldn't take kindly to us here at Shmoop. Hey, at least you can't burn the Internet.

The 19th century was a big time for American anti-intellectualism. Lots of people assumed that smart folks were just plain evil (source). With a main character like Ichabod, Irving just couldn't resist.