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Headless Horseman Research Paper

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The American nation was founded by a myriad of immigrants. Oppressed peasants, religious dissidents and the generally disenfranchised are just a few of those who left an indelible cultural and a political mark on our nation. This is apparent in the literary culture which defines our nation. Starting in the Colonial era leading up to the childhood of the Republic, American literature was primarily composed of religious sermons, folksy poems and old European folk tales given American qualities. However, during the Revolution patriotic essays and pamphlets became popular and after the onset of the 19th century, Transcendentalism developed from the European romanticists. At the beginning of the 19th century, the American literary style was, for…show more content…
homelands given a setting more familiar to the listeners in newly-settled America. One such example is the tale of the Devil and Tom Walker, in it the Devil (from his hunting grounds once populated by savage Indian Satanists) makes a deal with Tom Walker, exchanging great power and fortune for Walker?s soul[endnoteRef:1]. This story is based off of the centuries-old European fable of Dr. Faustus, a medieval alchemist who sought the secrets of life, but in the end fell victim to the Devil?s supernatural chicanery. Other such stories adapted from older settings are the Headless Horseman[endnoteRef:2] and Rip Van Winkle[endnoteRef:3], adapted from common themes in European folk tales of headless men and centuries old sleepers, respectively. [1: Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories. Westminster: Penguin Publishing Group, 2014.] [2: Irving 120-147] [3: Irving…show more content…
In this, the writer takes a common genre and presents it in a darker tone than it generally is. The era that bred the Naturalists and Realists could very well be seen as this. The nation of hope and opportunity brimmed with bigotry and hate, being held astride on the broken backs of Black slaves. The Manifest Destiny of the American people drove them to trample Indians underfoot and annihilate the culture poets once hailed as noble and beautiful in its simplicity. The nation that had withstood the greatest empire the world had ever known was riddled with dissent and discourse between men whose grandsires had forged it in the crucible of
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