Intent and Motive in The Devil and Tom Walker and The Devil and Daniel Webster

1564 Words7 Pages
Intent and Motive in The Devil and Tom Walker and The Devil and Daniel Webster Washington Irving, in writing "The Devil and Tom Walker", and Stephen Vincent Benet, in writing "The Devil and Daniel Webster" illustrate to the reader the consequences of man's desire for material wealth and how a person's motivation for a relationship with the devil affects the outcome of the "deal". In these two different, yet surprisingly similar narratives, the authors present their beliefs about human intent and motive. In "The Devil and Tom Walker", the story is seen of a stingy man and his nagging wife who "...were so miserly that they even conspired to cheat each other" (128). In the story, one sees a man make a deal with the devil, who…show more content…
When the devil shows Tom a tree for a greedy townsperson, he fails to see that he is very much like that tree when he "looked in the direction that the stranger pointed and beheld one of the great trees, fair and flourishing without, but rotten at the core" (130). As time passes after Tom has made his deal with the devil, and he is working as a usurer in Boston, squeezing every last cent out of the unlucky speculators that walked through his door, Tom begins to wonder whether he made the right choice when he dealt with Old Scratch: "He thought with regret on the bargain he had made with his black friend, and set his wits to work to cheat him out of the conditions" (134). Tom's decision to attempt to cheat the devil becomes his downfall. Tom now begins a routine of attending a Church service and praying loudly for everyone to hear, and he outfits himself with two Bibles which he thinks will protect him to the end. In a great irony Irving tells of how Tom will put down his Bible for a few minutes while he forecloses a mortgage of some poor borrower, and the resumes his reading when he is finished. Stevens recognized this irony and noted that "Irving has a keen eye for the ironies and contradictions of human behavior." Irving presents the reader with the difficulty that can arise when intentions are based solely on personal gain. In the story, one sees how Tom Walker's actions contradict each other in their

More about Intent and Motive in The Devil and Tom Walker and The Devil and Daniel Webster

Open Document