Study Guide

Katrina Van Tassel in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

By Washington Irving

Katrina Van Tassel

Even though she's the object of affection (slash conflict) for both the protagonist and antagonist, Katrina is barely a character in "Sleepy Hollow." Irving only gives us one paragraph of description, and the only thing she does is dump Ichabod. To be fair, we do know a few things about her:

  • She's pretty.
  • She's rich.

Oh, sorry, that's it.

Flirt and Fashionista

Katrina is way ahead of the curve: she wore mini-skirts 200 years before it was popular. And her fashion sense doesn't hurt in the flirting department. Her clothes definitely titillate the guys, and she's known around town as a tough lady to impress.

You might think she's a delicate little flower at first, but it's clear that Ichabod, Brom, and her father are all wrapped around her little finger: her dad does whatever she wants, and she just uses Ichabod to make Brom jealous. (Her mom, on the other hand, doesn't even worry about her because "girls can take care of themselves" [1.29].)

Icon of Fertility

Similar words are used to describe the bounty of the Van Tassel farm and our lady Katrina. She is "fresh," "ripe and melting," "blooming," "rosy," the list goes on. Sounds more like a garden than a PYT. Basically, Katrina (who is, by the way, the only named female character) is little more than a metaphor for her dad's stuff. Way to fail the Bechdel test, Irving.

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