In paragraph 8 of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," the narrator uses the phrase "worthy wight" to describe Crane. What tone does this suggest?

Wight is an archaic word, and in paragraph 8 of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Irving uses it to both underscore that his story is from "the old days" and as a way of gently producing a mocking tone as he makes fun of Icabod and the alleged folktale in which he appears.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When the narrator refers to Ichabod Crane as a "worthy wight," the tone is undoubtedly mocking and ironic, for a few reasons.

Firstly, the use of the term wight is meant to evoke a sense of the archaic. From the vantage point of 1820, the narrator refers to 1790 as a "remote period of American history." On one hand, it is silly to think of thirty years as being so long an amount of time in a historical sense, especially because the events of that time would have still been well within living memory.

However, the narrator is poking fun at how young America is as a nation. Unlike Europe, which has centuries of history and folklore, the United States is not yet fifty years old at the time of the publication of Irving's story. Therefore, the term wight adds to the satirical sense of 1790 being a distant epoch from the perspective of the early nineteenth century.

Secondly, the word wight has two meanings, and both fit the character of Ichabod. The word can be used to describe ghosts or spirits, but...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 881 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 19, 2020
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 2, 2020
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on October 10, 2019