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What are some examples of how satire is used in "The Devil and Tom Walker"?

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missallisen | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 3, 2008 at 1:30 AM via web

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What are some examples of how satire is used in "The Devil and Tom Walker"?

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 3, 2008 at 2:57 AM (Answer #1)

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One of the first things that is satirized in the story is marriage. Tom and his wife have a rather turbulent relationship and Irving satirizes this by saying that single people passing by their house were often glad they were not married. He writes,"the lonely wayfarer shrunk within himself at the horrid clamour and clapper clawing; eyed the den of discord askance, and hurried on his way, rejoicing, if a bachelor, in his celibacy."
Once Tom has made his deal with the devil, Irving satirizes his hypocritical actions. He says,"Thus Tom was the universal friend of the needy, and he acted like a "friend in need;" that is to say, he always exacted good pay and good security. "
In addition, Irving satirizes the way Tom turns to religion and became extremely critical of his neighbors, despite the fact that his own soul was damned. Irving says," Tom was as rigid in religious, as in money matters; he was a stern supervisor and censurer of his neighbours, and seemed to think every sin entered up to their account became a credit on his own side of the page. Thus Irving manages to satirize several element of his own society while telling the kind of story many people were already familiar with.

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