Ichabod Crane Romantic Hero Essay

Ichabod Crane and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Essay

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There are many facets that can either make or break someone as a “hero”. In literature, a hero does not necessarily have to be a knight in shining armor, a caped crusader, or an exact replica of the archetype but, there are certain qualities and expectations that determine what makes a hero. A typical hero has strength, appeal, courage, righteousness, and success, meaning that they have the physical and mental capabilities that can lead them to eventually achieve their goals. In most cases, the protagonist of a story is the hero, but this is not true in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. Set in Sleepy Hollow, the story chronicles schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane’s, time and sudden disappearance from the “haunted” town.…show more content…

There are many facets that can either make or break someone as a “hero”. In literature, a hero does not necessarily have to be a knight in shining armor, a caped crusader, or an exact replica of the archetype but, there are certain qualities and expectations that determine what makes a hero. A typical hero has strength, appeal, courage, righteousness, and success, meaning that they have the physical and mental capabilities that can lead them to eventually achieve their goals. In most cases, the protagonist of a story is the hero, but this is not true in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. Set in Sleepy Hollow, the story chronicles schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane’s, time and sudden disappearance from the “haunted” town. Seemingly the “good guy” and hero of the story, it is made apparent that Ichabod is a man of many faults which undermine this surface assumption. Ichabod’s gangly and bird-like physique is the first indication that he is not cut out to be the triumphant hero. In the face of danger, a hero stands up with bravery while Ichabod shrinks back from mythical tales and superstitions. Likewise, the simple fact of being morally upright is challenged by Ichabod’s overwhelming greed. Affirming his lack of heroism is the story’s conclusion in which Ichabod’s overactive imagination was so prevalent that it clouded his sense of reality and caused his downfall and failure. In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, Ichabod Crane is shown to be an anti-hero through his mere

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Irving's description of Crane as angular, awkward, and uncomfortable in his own skin echoes the man's sense of self:   "His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock perched upon his spindle neck to tell which way the wind blew.. his clothes bagging and fluttering about him, one might have mistaken him for the genius of famine...

Irving's description of Crane as angular, awkward, and uncomfortable in his own skin echoes the man's sense of self:   "His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock perched upon his spindle neck to tell which way the wind blew.. his clothes bagging and fluttering about him, one might have mistaken him for the genius of famine descending upon the earth, or some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield."

If you consider these physical attributes as reflections of the soul, you have all you need to know about the character of Ichabod Crane.  His head was "small."  In the early 1800s,  a small head was indicitive of a small mind, one of the many beliefs in "phrenology," the pseudo-science of interpreting personality by examing the skull, as is the idea that his head was "flat." 

Crane's "glassy eyes" indicate, properly, that he is unable to "see' clearly, both literally and symbolically.  His "snipe"-like nose conveys cruelness.  His neck and clothing, reminiscient of a corpse, are much like the descriptions of the dreaded Headless Horseman.  Through his descriptive horrors, Irving conveys more than a ghost story:  he hints, rather strongly, at a psychological abberrance; which, in part, may be attributed to the torn allegiances between the new world and the old. 

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