In "The Devil and Tom Walker," what is implied about Washington Irving's opinions of Puritans?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Indubitably, Washington Irving satirizes the avaricious and sanctimonious Puritans.  In the scene of Tom Walker's establishing a countinghouse in Boston, Irving describes the hoards of adventurous Puritans who are willing to gamble, speculate, and raise money by desperate means by appealing to Walker, their "friend in need."

As Tom ages, he fears spiritual reprisals and decides to become "a violent churchgoer."  His strenuous singing and devotion cause the pillars of the church to become disturbed by Tom's "outstripping" them of their careers:

The quiet Christians who had been modestly and steadfastly traveling Zionward, were struck with self-reproach at seeing themselves so suddenly outstripped in their career by this new-made convert.

Anxious that the Devil will pay him a visit in order to collect accounts, Tom Walker hypocritically carries a Bible, and he has one on his desk at the countinghouse.  Frequently, the hypocritical Walker reads this Bible, and must mark his page while he turns to "drive some usurious bargain."


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