The legends of Sleepy Hollow

Categories: Sleep

In, The legends of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories, psychoanalysis is shown through myths and other abnormal actions. Those which explain the decisions and the way one acts in the stories of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “The Devil and Tom Walker” thorough investigation and analysis.

In the short story, psychoanalysis can be seen through fear, romance, warfare, and death. In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” it says “the saddle trampled in the dirt; the tracks of horses’ hoofs deeply dented in the road-the hat of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it a shattered pumpkin.

” (Irving “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” 23) This quote is text explaining the brawl between Ichabod and the headless horseman, or also known as, Brom Bones. Bones was the type of person who used pranks to counter his violent thoughts. In this story, Ichabod is wishful to be like the fearless daredevil Bones, but Bones is intimidated by the social status of Ichabod. Bones starts to get jealous of the social relations of Ichabod and Katrina that starts Bones’ irrational thinking.

In Ichabod’s description, it says that he has a small head which is used as an indication of a small-minded person. With Bones believing this knowledge, he tried to use this as well as intimidation to stop Ichabod from stealing Katrina from him. All of these actions psychologically messed with Bones which caused him into tricking Ichabod of his headless horseman identity.

During the era of this story, the author, Washington Irving, explains how specters, witchcraft, and others affect the mindset of people.

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“the story revolves around haunting specters, Christianity and the paganism of witchcraft.” CITATE Using the headless horseman as an identity and illustration explains how much emphasis and power it held back in these days. It holds the power of romance, warfare, fear, and death which is all seen in this story. This quote explains these themes, it explains how romance made Bones react irrationally to the way Ichabod was acting. His jealousy was the main drive to the way he dealt with the situation at hand and what caused warfare to become the main theme. Warfare seemed as if the only turning point for Bones; the prank was the only solution in his mind. This prank is what incorporates fear into the story. How the author explained the physical actions and psychological thoughts that went through Ichabod’s mind explained the tragedy he went through. Lastly explains death as the last most important theme. Even though it says that Bones used pranks as his counter of violence. After this “prank,” Ichabod was never to be seen again. It does not explain what truly happened to him, but through a figurative point of view, his life was over, and the headless horseman had the motive.

As for the next short story, in “The Devil and Tom Walker,” it says, “Tom consoled himself for the loss of his property, with the loss of his wife, for he was a man of fortitude. He even felt something life gratitude towards the black woodman.” (Irving “The Devil and Tom Walker” 167) This quote is the feeling after the deal with the Devil. Throughout this story, psychoanalysis is shown through Tom, the Devil, and his wife. Tom and his wife have multiple problems, which is seen through their acts and conversations with the use of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis throughout this story is seen through romantic and betrayal acts caused by the upsets of the two. It states in the story, that the two are miserable together, they were inside an unhealthy relationship. It got to the point, where they both conspired to cheat on each other.

As tom makes this deal with the Devil, the wife tries to make one as well, but Tom wins and the wife is “taken care of.” The psychoanalysis of this story seems to be surrounded by the ego of each character. That one is better than the other, whether the outcome is good or bad for either of them. The only thing is that both characters lose and the Devil wins. Psychoanalysis through this story can be used to see how the author uses religion and deception, the act of fear. Without the Devil and the deceitful acts of religion, these situations would not have happened. The fear of the Devil was the main part of this story and how the outcome came to be. As this story is written in the era it was, it can be seen as a lesson through psychoanalysis. The author could have shown how the Devil can change one’s life through one temptation, one screw up. How religion plays a huge role in all life, but also how myths or abnormal acts show true meaning in situations.

As for the last psychoanalysis, in the short story “Rip Van Winkle,” it says, “Rip was ready to attend to any body’s business but his own; but as to doing family duty, and keeping his farm in order, he found it impossible.”(Irving “Rip Van Winkle” 29) In this story, Van Winkle fell asleep for 20 years and in everyday life, if someone did not care so much about their family, the family leaves, but that is not what happened. Rip was an extremely popular and liked person throughout the town, but in his house, he is lazy and does not care about his family. Back in these days, laziness was considered a sin, but he had no guilty conscience of this; he later blames his wife for these actions. After his 20-year nap, he seemed to be happy. He became respected again and his life was normal, just without his wife. As a person, this analysis can be seen as his dream life. To be carefree, do not have to care for his children or wife, not to lie about caring for them. It says that whenever he would hear her name, he would just shrug his shoulder, shaking his head, and cast up his eyes as an expression of the resignation of his fate. The reason why he probably did not want to hurt or divorce his wife, is probably his ego, that it was too big to have other people’s opinions. As an author’s point of view with the use of psychoanalysis is that a person cannot just sleep through life and not care, because when one awakes, everything will be different. How Rip had to work to form a new government, to support it, one that he did not know about. How thoughts used to be normal but must change to act like those around. In a blink of an eye, it can change any individual’s life forever. “But, it all ends in a somewhat tragic note (autumn phase), because when he comes back to the village, Dame Van Winkle is dead, Winkle’s daughter doesn’t recognize him and even the villagers, who respect Winkle, don’t believe his story.”

Works Cited

  1. Irving Washington. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Short Stories. Dover, 2008. pp. 1-25
  2. Rip Van Winkle” The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Short Stories. Dover, 2008. pp. 26-41
  3. The Devil and Tom Walker.” The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Short Stories. Dover, 2008. pp. 161-170

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The legends of Sleepy Hollow. (2019, Dec 03). Retrieved from

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