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An Analysis Of Washington Irving’s The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow

Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn once said “Literature transmits incontrovertible condensed experience… from generation to generation. In this way literature becomes the living memory of a nation. ” Literature was not created “in a vacuum. ” Literature was created in an open environment, it expands and reaches places that not everyone believes it will. Literature is made to express thoughts or to reach social issues. Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn’s quote could be interpreted in a couple of ways. Literature in fact, does transmit almost unchanging, although it is changing, experiences from generation to generation.

Whatever it is that is being transmitted into the “new generation” is what soon helps history remember that literature and time period. Washington Irving was born on April 3, 1782 in Manhattan, New York in a rather interesting time period. He was born the same week the American Revolution ended. Washington Irving was in a fairly larger family, which he was one of eight children. His family life and boyhood was significant for his writing. He spent a year of his youth near the town of Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is the setting for a few of his short story but most people know it from his most famous story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

A lot of his writing was influenced by his relationship with his parents. Irving was known as a “dunce. ” (Jones) His parents, especially his dad, and teachers had trouble controlling him. Washington Irving was a “different” child. Irving was a bit of trouble at school and tended to ditch school and go watch plays instead(Jones). He liked theater more than sports compared to other boys. Irving loved being a class clown as well, he almost thrived off of it. At a young age Irving had a considerably different belief of religion compared to his family.

Washington Irving thought that religion was “tedious. ” (Jones) His writings are possibly some of the most influential pieces of American literature ever. His childhood and family life, the town he would spend his summers at, and how he matured as an author are shown in his short stories tremendously. Washington Irving’s childhood affected his writing in multiple ways. Influences growing up were shown a lot through his writing. How and who he was as a person was shown through his writing. (Liptak) Washington Irving growing up was considered a “prankster. (Jones) He also didn’t like school very much and often skipped school to watch plays at local theaters. (Jones) Irving’s influences revolved around his oldest brother and his mother.

In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” there is a character that sticks out a bit. His name is Brom Van Brunt who also is know as “Brom Bones. ” Brom Bones strongly represents Washington Irving in this short story. Washington Irving was known for being what many call a “prankster” and he definitely enjoyed being goofy and pulling pranks. Brom Bones does as well. In multiple different scenes throughout the story Bones was shown pranking Ichabod.

For example, Brom Bones filled Ichabod’s schoolhouse with smoke and another scene Bones is said to be teaching a dog to follow Ichabod around and howl at him. As Irving got older his writing differed from how he had started writing. When he was younger he wrote a lot of fiction. As he got older he began writing biographies and nonfiction stories. (Jones) He started off with a lot of comical fiction. His first published short story was published in 1809. “ A History of New York” and “ The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon” were the two stories that really started his writing career.

His writing career thrived off of fictional short stories for years. In 1824 Irving published “Tales of a Traveller” which actually was a short book of stories that brought a few bad reviews. Those reviews caused Irving to shift his writing. Irving didn’t always stay in fictional writing but also moved to nonfictional. His last work published was published in 1859. The Life of George Washington” (5 Volumes) was his last published works and differed from the rest. It was a biography rather than fiction, but it wasn’t his own nonfictional work. Washington Irving was born in a time period where America was becoming America.

A lot of Irving’s writing had real life places that were close to him. (Jones) Sleepy Hollow for example, was a small village that Irving discovered. Sleepy Hollow was near Tarrytown, which was where he spent a summer when he was fifteen. Washington Irving was born the very same week that the American Revolution had ended. (Jones) A few months after he was born the British troops began leaving America. America had just started to form itself into a country. When Washington Irving had just turned six, George Washington was elected president. America formed itself into a country.

His family had lots to do with the war. In Irving’s short story, “Rip Van Winkle” it’s based around the time period of the American Revolution. In the short story it even spoke on how King George III was still in power. Irving’s dad had served in the war with the rebels. Washington Irving was named after George Washington. Irving’s family and life growing up affected his writing incredibly. The relationships he had with different family members influenced his thoughts, feelings, and writing. His mother, Sarah Irving, was supportive of what he did. Pleasant things can also be beautiful. ” (Jones) Irving’s mother gave him a beautiful perspective view on life.

His father, William Irving, was viewed as “ zealous and utterly humorless” (Jones) Washington Irving’s father was very strict and believed that Irving was being foolish. He and his father didn’t clash very well and were quite the opposites. William Jr. was his oldest brother and Irving almost viewed him as a father figure. Although William Jr. was seventeen years older than Irving, him and Irving shared many similar interests in authors, plays, etc.

When Irving was fifteen the yellow fever broke out in Manhattan and his parents sent him away for the summer. There was a village near Tarrytown that soon became the setting of many of Irving’s short stories. Irving discovered the small village of Sleepy Hollow near Tarrytown. Irving’s influence in literature is a great proponent for Solzhenitsyn’s quote. Irving is considered the “father of American literature” and many authors that come after him support this statement. (Jones) Washington Irving sparked many other great American writers to begin their careers. Liptak)

Due to Irving’s works American literature has expanded. He has set a standard in a way for future American literature as well as he opened up the field of writing a bit. Washington Irving did not only write fictional short stories but he also wrote biographies and nonfiction works. The fact that he didn’t just stick to a specific type of writing enhanced future writing formats. His childhood, family life, where he spent his summers and his maturity as an author is substantially important to his writing and for future American authors.

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