Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Ichabod Crane, the itinerant schoolteacher of Sleepy Hollow, less a character than a caricature, grotesque in his physical appearance. He is very tall, with narrow shoulders and long arms that dangle out of his sleeves; his feet are so large that they might have served as shovels. He has a small flat head, with large ears and a long snipe nose. The teller of the story, Diedrich Knickerbocker, says that to see him striding in profile across a hilltop on a windy day with his clothes fluttering around him, one might take him for “the genius of famine descended on the earth.” Ichabod’s most basic characteristic is his great hunger; Knickerbocker says he has the dilating power of an anaconda and seems able to swallow up everything placed before him. A shrewd New Englander in the midst of simple Dutch farmers, Ichabod wants to swallow up the land that belongs to Katrina Van Tassel’s father. His downfall is the result of his other appetite—his willingness to “swallow,” or believe, everything about the marvelous and the supernatural. Because of his gullible appetite for the marvelous, he is frightened away from Katrina and Sleepy Hollow by Brom Bones, who pretends to be the legendary Headless Horseman.
Katrina Van Tassel
Katrina Van Tassel, the only child of a wealthy Dutch farmer. At the age of eighteen, she is seen by the always hungry Ichabod as “plump as a partridge” and as ripe and...
(The entire section is 514 words.)
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See Abraham Van Brunt.
Ichabod Crane, the protagonist, is a stern school-teacher and singing instructor who has come to Sleepy Hollow, New York, from Connecticut. He is lanky and sharp-featured, awkward and somewhat clumsy, but more educated and sophisticated than the native villagers. He is quite fond of food, and is well fed by the neighboring housewives, who share his delight in telling and retelling ghost stories. When he sets his sights on marrying Katrina Van Tassel, it is not because of any feeling he has for her, but because her father is wealthy and Crane admires the food that is always displayed in the Van Tassel home. Katrina refuses him, however, preferring the manly and strong Brom Bones. In his disappointment Crane allows his imagination to run away with him. He is tricked by Brom into believing that he is being chased through the night by a headless horseman. In the morning he is gone, having left town without saying good-bye.
Abraham Van Brunt
Brom Bones is Crane's chief rival for Katrina's affections, and is in every way Crane's opposite. He is large, strong, rough, humorous, and good-natured, as well-known for his skill as a horseman as Crane is for his education. When he sees that Crane is paying attention to Katrina, Brom begins a series of practical jokes to humiliate him. Finally, he disguises himself as the headless horseman and chases the impressionable...
(The entire section is 383 words.)