Study Guide

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Man and the Natural World

By Washington Irving

Man and the Natural World

In "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," the relationship between man and nature is way more convincing than the one between Katrina and Ichabod. Nature is like another character here, and man is it chatty. Birds have parties, there are squadrons of farm animals, and like any good friend, nature is sympathetic when you're sad. Ichabod seems oblivious to his relationship to nature, except that it gives him things to eat. But the other residents of Sleepy Hollow seem to be best buds with the land around them, forming an interdependent relationship that lets them live quietly and comfortably.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Are the natural and the supernatural mutually exclusive In "Sleepy Hollow"? Where do people come into play in this equation?
  2. What is the relationship between man and animals in "Sleepy Hollow"? Why do you think Irving wrote about them this way?
  3. When the now-U.S. was settled, it was considered a land with plenty of natural resources. Irving wrote "Sleepy Hollow" not too long after the American Revolution and his trip to Europe. Do you think this affected his writing? How?

Chew on This

In "Sleepy Hollow," man's relationship with the natural world is simply to dominate it.

Nature and mankind have an interdependent relationship in "Sleepy Hollow"—each one rubs off on the other.