Compare and contrast the narrator of ''The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'' and the framework narrator of ''The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County'.'
Explain literary elements such as point of view, irony, and tone.
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When it comes to point of view, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calveras County" are similar in that they are not told by one narrator alone. Both could be considered "frame" stories (that is, a story within a story). "Sleepy Hollow" in fact, could almost be considered a story within a story within a story...etc. To understand this more fully, let's look at the narrators in each story:
- Narrator 1: Washington Irving, the author of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.
- Narrator 2: Geoffrey Crayon, a fictional "author" established by Irving to give many of his stories a sense of folklore and credibility.
- Narrator 3: Diedrich Knickerbocker, the fictional character who first wrote these stories down (also given credit for Rip Van Winkle) before they were found by G. Crayon.
- Narrator 4: characters within the story who contribute to the "legend" by repeating "headless horseman" tales they've either heard or read.
- Narrator 1: Mark Twain, speaking (in 1st person) of the meeting between himself and Simon Wheeler.
- Narrator 2: Simon Wheeler, speaking (in 3rd person) about Jim Smiley.
As with many frame stories and almost all stories told in the first person point of view, there exists the question, "How reliable is the narrator?" Consider that frame stories are very similar to gossip. The more people a story gets passed through, the more embellished and less factual it often becomes. In both of these stories, this framing is completely intentional. The tone therefore, is in itself ironic. You, the reader, are not to trust that these stories are true, despite the ever present emphasis (by all story tellers involved) that they are. It is almost like saying, "If this many people know of and can tell this story, it must be true."
More than likely the main purpose of the original authors for doing this is for humor and entertainment. Also, much like satire today picks on current events and news stories, and the way in which these stories are often portrayed, both Irving and Twain are likely making a social commentary on the kind of story telling that was accepted as "truth" in their own generations.
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