Abuse In Washington Irving's The Devil And Tom Walker

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Mrs. Walker’s abuse of her husband is only one facet of her twisted psyche. Washington Irving’s tale, “The Devil and Tom Walker,” satirically criticizes the people of 1720s Boston for their greed through characters such as Mrs. Walker. Because her motivation is control, Mrs. Walker’s psychological state is abusive and her actions result in her death. Mrs. Walker’s violent tendencies often victimize Tom and expose her as an abusive character. Irving writes (2010), “Her voice was often heard in wordy warfare with her husband; and his face sometimes showed signs that their conflicts were not confined to words.” (p. 230). Tom’s face shows signs of physical turmoil, such as scratches or bruises, which his wife inflicts. Not only does Mrs. Walker fight her husband, but also the Devil. “Tom knew his wife’s prowess by experience.” (Irving, 2010, p. 234) Tom’s reflection on the aftermath of Mrs.…show more content…
Walker’s abusive actions reveal her controlling nature and motivations. She yearns for power over others as “…she urged her husband to comply with the black man’s terms and secure what would make them wealthy for life.” (Irving, 2010, p. 233) Mrs. Walker also craves jurisdiction over money, as she takes their valuables as a sort of insurance. Lastly, these two motivations come together as she attempts to force Tom to sell his soul so she can reap the benefits of the acquired wealth. Mrs. Walker’s greedy actions, along with her thirst for control, were key components to her demise by the Devil’s hand. Just as Tom is unwilling to give up money, “He had a wife as miserly as himself,” his wife matches his avarice (Irving, 2010, p. 229). She may even be more desperate for wealth, as she is eager to take up the Devil’s deal when Tom declines. She immediately sets out with their assets, another attempt at maintaining power over riches, and searches for the Devil. Although he refuses to deal with her, she will not accept it, and engages him in combat, ultimately losing her
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