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Shortcuts In Washington Irving's The Devil And Tom Walker

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When someone “makes a deal with the devil”, it always leads to the corruption of the dealer and their fate of inevitable damnation. The story takes place during in the early 1800s, and Tom Walker agrees to a bargain with the Devil who he encounters while walking through a swamp on his way home. The deal directs him to Boston where he becomes a cheaty usurer and gets very wealthy. Overpowered by greed, Tom even attempts to cheat the Devil, and in doing, so he eventually pays the price. In the short story, “The Devil and Tom Walker”, author Washington Irving uses the symbolism of the swamp, silverware, starved horses, empty mansion, hypocrisy of religion, and covered Bibles to show how greed and selfishness corrupts Tom Walker. The swamp serves as a symbol to represent how greed and selfishness corrupt Tom Walker’s morals. Being a man who likes to take the easy road, “One day that Tom Walker had been to a distant part of the neighborhood, he took what he considered a shortcut homeward, through the swamp” (204). The narrator says that Tom is one of the only people who would walk through the swamp because he is cold-hearted and does not mind the dangers of the eerie swamp. However, the swamp has a deeper meaning. Shortcuts typically are ways to cut corners, but for Tom Walker, he cuts them all throughout the story because he is full of greed. Whenever he takes shortcuts, it is because he wants to get ahead of others so he can benefits himself, even if others are harmed.
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