Stereotypes In Washington Irving's The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow

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Author Lois Wyse once wrote, “Men are taught to apologize for their weakness, women for their strength” (Anwer). These standards have been prevalent in society throughout history, creating the stereotype that the ideal man is always strong, brave, and self sufficient, and the ideal woman is small, submissive, and willing to tend the home. American short-story writer Washington Irving has portrayed these stereotypes in his works. As result of a mindset that was common for the time period Irving lived in, he has written short stories that portray unfair stereotypes involving the ideal man through physical appearance and an ingrained dislike against women as result of a struggle between the concepts of freedom and tyranny.
Sexism played a huge
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In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” the characters are portrayed as cliches. The main character, Ichabod Crane, is described as “exceedingly lank” with “hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves” and “large green glassy eyes.” Ichabod is also a scholar. He is held with great respect in the town but is not perceived as a macho man. In contrast to Ichabod is the character Brom. Brom is described as “broad-shouldered and double-jointed.” Not only do these descriptions match the characters physical appearance, but they also match their personalities. Throughout the story, Irving forms the idea that a person’s appearance parallels their personality. Ichabod is physically described as weak in this story and Irving matches his actions to his appearance saying he is “an odd mixture of small shrewdness and simple credulity.”Ichabod is not the type of character we would expect to win Katrina’s hand. Brom on the other hand has many traditionally masculine traits which provide a clear boon to his social status. His description starts with, “[He] was a burley, roaring blade, of the name of Abraham, or, according to the Dutch abbreviate, Brom Van Brunt, the hero of the country round, which rung with his feats of strength and hardihood.” With this description, Irving showcases how physical appearance alone can create the impression of masculinity. The descriptions also suggest that Brom is superior to Ichabod. At the end of the story Brom wins Katrina’s hand over Ichabod Through these two characters. Brom, the character with an abundance of socially constructed masculinity, defeats Ichabod, the character who lacks gender norms of the time. It is clear that Irving is displaying how well one fits with a gender norm can affect the social aspects of one’s

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