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Analysis

Literary Devices in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

Post-Revolutionary War AmericaWhen "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was published, Irving's America still has its baby face and was looking up to big brother Europe. Everything was fresh and new—so...

Narrator Point of View

You might want to sit down for this one. Ready? Okay.The story of Ichabod Crane was written by a fake guy, listening to a fake old man, found by the fake author of The Sketch Book. Confused yet? We...

Genre

Whew, that sure is a lot of genres. How did Irving manage to fit them all into this little story? Never fear—Shmoop is here. Plus, these are some of the easiest genres to identify.Before Emo, The...

Tone

Knickerbocker is our straight man, telling it as he sees it. But here's the thing: what he sees is absurd. Take this description of Ichabod's fine dancing (please!):Not a limb, not a fibre about hi...

Writing Style

It's ComplicatedA simply constructed sentence we rarely do see in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." (Sound weird? Try reading the story.)The pages of this story are littered with commas, semicolons, d...

What's Up With the Title?

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow": five little words, including a couple throwaways. Seems like it doesn't have much to say, but Irving sure knows how to pack a punch.Let's start with legend. By callin...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

"A pleasing land of drowsy head it was, Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye; And of gay castles in the clouds that pass, For ever flushing round a summer sky."—James Thomson, "The Castle...

What's Up With the Ending?

Whodunit? Actually, wait. Whodunwhat? What exactly happens at the end of this story? The way we see it, there are two possibilities:Brom Bones pranked Ichabod one last time, and Ichabod took off an...

Tough-o-Meter

This is a short story, and short = easy, right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but that's not the case here. When it comes to "Sleepy Hollow," you just might get tripped up slogging your way through I...

Plot Analysis

Just a Small, American TownIchabod Crane is the schoolteacher in Sleepy Hollow, a town where not much ever happens. Oh, except for ghost stories. The people in this town are obsessed with ghosts—...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

We know—this story is hilarious. Then how can it be a tragedy? Hear us out. Irving makes fun of nearly every literary style and genre that he uses, and his use of tragedy is no different. Even th...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

Slumbering in ParadiseEverything is all well and good in the earthly paradise of Sleepy Hollow. We meet our (not-so-heroic) protagonist, and everything seems to be going fine. At least until a girl...

Trivia

Washington Irving was a man of many talents, one of which involved—wait for it—coining words. This one will be especially fun for you New Yorkers. Ever heard of Gotham? That's Irving. And knick...

Steaminess Rating

Head elsewhere if you're looking for some steam. Let's face it—Ichabod had no chance with Katrina from the start.

Allusions

Brom is named AbrahamIchabod's name means "no glory" (1 Samuel 4:21)Katrina is another name for DemeterBaltus is named after BalthazarJames Thomson, "The Castle of Indolence" (Epigraph)Ovid, Metamo...
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