Washington Irving’s “The Devil and Tom Walker” is based on a Germanic story of Johann Faust who was a magician and alchemist who sold his soul to the Devil and in exchange received great powers and wealth. Irving takes on the story of Johann Faust and adapts it to the Puritan society of the 1800 s. Tom Walker, the protagonist of the story, dwells near woods of Charles Bay a few miles from Boston, Massachusetts. Washington Irving s writing is one with great distinct description. Irving gives the reader an image the brings to life specific scenes with vast clarity. Irving s vivid description of the settings, shape and foreshadow the up and coming events in the short story of The Devil and Tom Walker.
Irving uses his distinct description to describe the swamp area of Charles Bay. “The swamp was thickly grown with great gloomy pines and hemlocks, some of them ninety feet high…It was full of pits and quagmires, partly covered with weeds and mosses, where the green surface often betrayed the traveler into a gulf of black, smothering mud, where the trunks of pines and hemlocks lay half drowned, half rotting, looking like alligators sleeping in the mire.” Irvings description of the swamp leaves the reader without a doubt that evil is present in Charles Bay. Irving uses the dark color black, and great word choice to better visualize the evilness within. Evil was definitely lurking around the corner, for when Tom Walker had taken what he considered a shortcut through the swamp, Irving described this route as being an ill-chosen route. Irving is trying to express that evil is near and if Tom Walker isn t careful he may encounter this evilness. The reader receives a helpful hint that the destiny of this route is doomed from the description of Irving. Irving creates suspense by leaving Tom all alone by himself in the Old Indian Fort. Anyone but he would have felt unwilling to linger in this lonely, melancholy place, for the common person had a bad opinion about it. Tom Walker is described from the quote as being an irregular person. For he does things that the normal person despises of doing, such as going by himself to the Old Indian fort. The Old Indian Fort is where Tom Walker first encounters Old Scratch a nickname for the Devil. The encounter of the devil proves the description of the foreshadow of the shortcut as being an ill chosen route as being true.
Irving continued his description of key scenes in the story. On the bark of the tree was scored the name of Deacon Peabody, an eminent man, who had waxed wealthy by driving shrewd bargains with the Indians. He now looked around, and found most of the tall trees marked with the name of some great man of the colony. At this point the story has reached its climax, evil has arrived and death was imminent. The devil had engraved the name of every important man in the colony. This is important because Deacon Peabody would later die, giving Tom a hint that the names on the trees would too follow in Deacon Peabody s footsteps. From Irving s description of the surrounding environment, the reader has a sense of what is going on in the story and also has a sense of what is to come in the future. A prime example of how the reader has a sense of what is to come in the future is when Tom s wife sets off to the swamp area, by herself, in search for the devil. She is following is Tom s footsteps and traveling through the swamp where it is imminent that she will encounter the devil. Till this day, nobody knows for sure what the fate of Tom s wife was, but to the reader has a good idea that the devil had gotten the best of her. As the story develops further, Tom makes a deal with the devil and Tom becomes a usurer, who is a person that lends money, and charges an unusual or unlawfully high rate of interest. Tom has set out a deal with the devil so that he may grow richer and have part of Kidd the pirates treasure. What Tom doesn t know is that you can t fool Old Scratch and that Old Scratch will always get the best of you. This all becomes true one day when Tom exclaims The devil take me, if I have made a farthing! The very next moment the devil had come to his office and took Tom away on his horse. Tom was taken away on a horse that galloped like mad across the field, over the hills, and down into the black hemlock swamp toward the old Indian Fort. It is certain that Old Scratch got the best of Tom, for evil was imminent in the whole scene. From the mad black horse, that went back to the swamp of the old Indian Fort where Old Scratch dwelled.
Based on the reading of The Devil and Tom Walker , Washington Irving uses a deep level of description to better explain the scenes in The Devil and Tom Walker. He uses his unique style of writing to foreshadow events in the future. The way Irving shapes his settings gives the reader a better understanding of what is imminent to come ahead of time. Irving clarifies every little aspect of his description with his word choice, which go perfectly with his description of the scene. It is obvious to the reader what Irving is trying to point out and it is easier for the reader to follow in the story when the story is described in deep clarity as in his story of The Devil and Tom Walker .
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