Essay Sample on Comparison of Washington Irving Short Stories

Published: 2023-03-20
Essay Sample on Comparison of Washington Irving Short Stories
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Books World literature Comparative literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 941 words
8 min read

Washington Irving is one of the best Short story writers. His works were published in the 19th century. In this essay, I will analyze his two short stories, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle." The themes surrounding these two tales though different in many ways have many places where they are similar.

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  • Both books revolve around fiction and aspects of history
  • The stories are filled with mythical tales of ghost existence, which disturbs the characters.
  • Both stories are based on the revolution with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow being based on post-revolution, while Rip Van Winkle is based on both pre and post-revolution.
  • The setting of the stories is also similar in that both stories are of Dutch origin
  • The themes of both stories have many things in common.


  • The Legend of Sleepy hollow is built on the theme of war and battle, whereas Rip Van winkle is based on the subject of liberation and ruthless leaders.
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollows is based on the events after the uprising, while Rip Van Winkle is built on both before and after the rebellion.
  • Rip Van Wrinkle is a leadership-based story that shows how the Empire ruled Dutch communities and the Great War. However, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is founded on myths and the social life of people.
  • The writer presents the traditional women's view in Rip Van Winkle and the modern women in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Theme Comparison

The theme of superstition and mythical beings is evident in The Legend of Sleepy Hollows. As Irving et al. say that, "The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback, without ahead. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper" (1). The ghost cannot be explained in any scientific way. However, as postulated by the writer, the residents of Sleepy Hollow claim to be haunted by the spirits. The villager claims that the spirit is back for vengeance. However, fictitious creatures are not described in Irvin's book Rip Van Winkle.

History is evident in both books, as stated by Irvin et al., "In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch" (1). The Story is based on Dutch and German. However, a careful analysis of all the events in the book reflects New York. The storyline is built around Ichabod who travels from his home town Connecticut to be a teacher in New York City. Rip Van Winkle is also based on a history presented in form of fiction. As Irvin stipulated, "Where is Brome Dutcher?" "Oh, he went off to the army at the beginning of the war; Some say he was killed in the storming stony point, other say he was drowned in the squall of the foul of Anthony's Nose" (32). This statement is evidence that the Story is based on the real history of the American Revolution, which took in the 17th century. At the same time that Irvin wrote the two stories.

Gender issues have been addressed in both books. In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Irvin et al. state that "The old country wives, who are the best of judges of this matters, maintain that Ichabod was spirited away by supernatural means" (18). Women are believed to be the best in issues relating to passing the history of the community. In this book, it is evident that the pioneers of the Story are women. The Story of women having control over men through their charms is also apparent. Ichabod is seen to have fallen under the mercies of his student this is seen through his declaration as stipulated by Irvin et al, "I profess not to know how women's hearts are wooed and won. To me, they have always been matters of riddle and admiration. Some seem to have but one vulnerable point or door of access; while others have a thousand avenues" (9). His utterance is as a result of his love for Katrina, Bault Van Tessel's daughter. The Story portrays the true nature of modern women. The girls in the community had rights to inherit properties; Irvin et al. state that "His heart yearned after the damsel who was to inherit these domains." The writer is referring to Katrina Van Tassel.

Rip Van Winkle also has evidence of roles played by women in the Dutch community. Irvin's writings show how women were discriminated against in the traditional view. They are seen to be inferior to men, and they are not given any direct role. Their work is basically to provide help to the legend who takes part in fighting the tyrannies. Women are also discriminated against in matters of inheritance. Irvin portrays states, "As of Rip's son and heir" (29). This is a clear indication that the parent's properties belonged to the sons.

In conclusion, Irvin's work is an excellent source of history. It is rich in both the traditional view of women, as seen in Rip Van Winkle and the modern women, as evident in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The American Revolution is also traceable in both books as well as the history of the war. The suffering people went through during this uprising is also seen in the case of Rip Van Winkle, the Dutch legend.

Works Cited

Irving, Washington, and Harriet Marie Johnson. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Gregg Publishing Company, 1986.

Irving, Washington. Rip Van Winkle. Copp, Clark, & Company, 1884.

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