In "the Legend of Sleepy Hollow", How has the author used symbolism to reveal character and develop the plot?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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With his great brawn and "rough chivalry" that could carry matters to open warfare, Brom Bones represents the country man, the rough new American.  His foil, Ichabod Crane, with his "spindle neck" and long narrow head, Ichabod much resembles the bird of his surname,

tall and lanky, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, and a long snipe nose.... 

He is a native of Connecticut, "a state which supplies the Union with pioneers for the mind as well as for the forest."  Crane is the intellectual who teaches and who reads Coton Mather's History of New England Witchcraft.  He is symbolic of the colonial Americans who were more cultured and educated, albeit not as physical.  Not so far removed from the English, Crane harbors much of their supersititous nature. 

As a guest of Katrina Van Tassel, Ichabod is too far removed from his native land. His struggles to control his appetite and to use his imagination properly represents and reflects the struggles of the new society to behave maturely. When the head of the horseman is hurled at Ichabod by Brom playing the Hessian Horseman, the gesture is symbolic of the contention that brawn is more important than brains.  But, the high spirited Crane has a "happy mixture of pliability and perseverance in his nature."  But, finally, he is terrified on his return home.


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