The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
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The title is pretty ironic when you consider how little sleep you'd be getting if you had a headless horseman chasing you.
|19th-Century Literature||19th-Century American Literature|
|American Literature||19th-Century American Literature|
All American Literature
|Author||Irving - Washington Irving|
Greed and Gluttony
Man and the Natural World
War and Warfare
One thing that keeps it in high demand is the simple fact that people love scary stories.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, with its terrifying headless horseman, is one of the original
scary stories to tell in the dark. People are always passing along creepy tales...
Like how that friend of your friend’s cousin’s half-brother’s aunt once put a hamster in
Similarly, they’ve been telling and retelling the Legend of Sleepy Hollow for two centuries.
While Irving didn’t up come up with the legend of the headless horseman, he glammed
it up, which helps the story’s longevity.
It’s surprising he didn’t come up with the idea to turn Hansel and Gretel into gun
toting action heroes. You say scary stories aren’t your thing?
People who aren’t big fans of scary stories enjoy Sleepy Hollow for a different reason…
its protagonist, Ichabod Crane.
We can all identify with Ichabod…
He’s no Hercules or Superman… he’s a skinny nerd with fast feet and quick wits
in place of rippling muscles. And, judging by how often we hide under the
covers after a scary movie, we also identify with his fear.
Even if you’re not that big into frights, or don’t give two shakes about Ichabod…
…you can’t deny the fact that, as a culture, we Americans love to fantasize about supernatural
Things that go bump in the night can be anything from vampires and werewolves….
…To Bigfoot, El Chupacabra, or even UFOs circling overhead looking for something or
someone to… probe. Irving takes advantage of our love for the
unexplained by leaving it open to interpretation whether or not the headless horseman is actually
Imagine reading this story, then hearing a snapping twig in the woods on a dark night.
You’d be liable to think that it could be the diabolical horseman, looking for a head
So why has this story made such an everlasting impact on American storytelling?
Is it our love for scary stories?
Our soft spot for the underdog?
Or our fascination with the supernatural? Shmoop amongst yourselves