Study Guide

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Greed and Gluttony

By Washington Irving

Greed and Gluttony

Ichabod Crane had a soft and foolish heart towards the sex; and it is not to be wondered at, that so tempting a morsel soon found favor in his eyes; more especially after he had visited her in her paternal mansion. (1.21)

Allow us to translate: it was love at first sight—or actually, love at first sight of her bank account. We learn two things from this little nugget: (1) Ichabod is super greedy, and (2) Washington Irving is subtly (and not so subtly) hilarious.

The pedagogue's mouth watered, as he looked upon this sumptuous promise of luxurious winter fare. In his devouring mind's eye, he pictured to himself every roasting-pig running about with a pudding in his belly, and an apple in his mouth; the pigeons were snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust; the geese were swimming in their own gravy; and the ducks pairing cosily in dishes, like snug married couples, with a decent competency of onion sauce. (1.22)

Have you noticed that Ichabod has a really good imagination? If only he could put it to good use. Instead, he just drools over the food that's only found in his mind's eye.

As the enraptured Ichabod fancied all this, and as he rolled his great green eyes over the fat meadow- lands, the rich fields of wheat, of rye, of buckwheat, and Indian corn, and the orchards burthened with ruddy fruit, which surrounded the warm tenement of Van Tassel, his heart yearned after the damsel who was to inherit these domains, and his imagination expanded with the idea, how they might be readily turned into cash, and the money invested in immense tracts of wild land, and shingle palaces in the wilderness. (1.23)

In case you were thinking that Ichabod was just greedy for food, he very quickly clears that up for you here. Unfortunately, Biggie wasn't around to tell Ichabod what everyone knows: "Mo money, mo problems."

Nay, his busy fancy already realized his hopes, and presented to him the blooming Katrina, with a whole family of children, mounted on the top of a wagon loaded with household trumpery, with pots and kettles dangling beneath; and he beheld himself bestriding a pacing mare, with a colt at her heels, setting out for Kentucky, Tennessee, or the Lord knows where. (1.23)

The Boss said it best: "Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king, and a king ain't satisfied 'til he rules everything." Ichabod is so greedy that he's already thinking what his next move will be once he's won the object of his affection.

"[A]nd anon he passed the fragrant buckwheat fields, breathing the odor of the bee-hive, and as he beheld them, soft anticipations stole over his mind of dainty slapjacks, well buttered, and garnished with honey or treacle, by the delicate little dimpled hand of Katrina Van Tassel. (1.38)

Yep, we think of pancakes when we are walking through the park. Totally normal.

As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye, ever open to every symptom of culinary abundance, ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly autumn. (1.38)

Ichabod in nature is like a kid in a candy store. It's harvest time and there are just so many options. We'll say one thing: as greedy as he is, he definitely has an appreciation for nature. Most of us gluttons would be running to the closest Dairy Queen. Ichabod stops to smell—and possibly eat—the roses.

I want breath and time to discuss this banquet as it deserves, and am too eager to get on with my story. Happily, Ichabod Crane was not in so great a hurry as his historian, but did ample justice to every dainty. (1.43)

Even the narrator can't keep up with Ichabod's hunger. He would need to be as quick as an auctioneer to list the food he swallowed.

He could not help, too, rolling his large eyes round him as he ate, and chuckling with the possibility that he might one day be lord of all this scene of almost unimaginable luxury and splendor. Then, he thought, how soon he'd turn his back upon the old school-house; snap his fingers in the face of Hans Van Ripper, and every other niggardly patron, and kick any itinerant pedagogue out of doors that should dare to call him comrade! (1.44)

Didn't anyone ever tell Ichabod not to count his chickens before they hatch? He's counting his chickens before the eggs have even been laid. And just when we thought this guy couldn't get any sleazier, we find out that he's ready to turn his back on everyone in his life without blinking an eye.