Essay about The Devil And Tom Walker, by Washington Irving
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The Devil And Tom Walker, by Washington Irving
Washington Irving the author of The Devil and Tom Walker uses the setting of the story to convey that things with a good appearance can be deceiving and be putrid on the inside. He also creates the right atmosphere for the story, and gives precise details to the audience so they can predict the topic and how it will develop. In addition, he describes each character in a manner that the readers can infer who they are, their personal characteristics, and the decisions that they might make throughout the development of the story. Moreover, he provides a background for each character in order to understand their actions and their ending.
This tall tale occurs near Boston, Massachusetts…show more content…
These speculations are proven true when the termagant wife of Tom Walker goes into the swamp and gets slaughtered by the devil.
Secondly, the swamp was covered with “great trees, fair and flourishing without, but rotten at the core.” Tom Walker noticed that the trees had the names of some influential and good people of the colony. For instance, there was a tree with the name of “Deacon Peabody, an eminent man who had waxed wealthy by driving shrewd bargains with the Indians.” Also, there was another tree with the name of “Crowninshield… a mighty rich man…who made a vulgar display of wealth which it was whispered he had acquired by buccaneering.” These situations showed that the people that seemed to be good Samaritans among the community had gotten their power through ill-gotten ways, so their appearance conveyed nothing of what their true selves were.
Furthermore, the author never mentions directly that the devil is present in the story, but he gives out clues so the reader can infer it. For example, he mentions “he was dressed in a rude, half Indian garb, and had a red belt… swathed round his body… his face was begrimed with soot, as if he had been accustomed to toil among fires and forges.” Irving also mentions he has cloven feet and calls him
Washington Irving is said to be the first to have used the phrase “the almighty dollar.” This tale, found in part 4 (called “The Money Diggers”) of Tales of a Traveller, comically presents the results of valuing the dollar above all else. Both Tom and his wife care more for possessions than they do for each other. She urges Tom to sell his soul, and he is more concerned for his household treasures than for her. The two live in conflict and misery because of greed and eventually die from greed, she by trying to bully the devil into better terms and he by attempting to squeeze the last bit of profit from an unfortunate client.
The Faust theme, in which the soul is exchanged for knowledge and power, is reduced here to a story of money grubbing. The occupations that are viewed as of special service to the devil—slave-trading and usury—are those that place monetary profit before humanity. (Irving also attacked the slave trade in his A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, 1828, and he had personal experience with the humiliation of debt and bankruptcy.)
Tom’s turn to religion near the end of the tale is a combination of superstition and hypocrisy. Tom hopes to ward off the devil through the outward trappings of Christianity, but the tale clearly satirizes those who make a public show of devotion while retaining meanness of spirit.