What are the 5 essential plot elements to "The Devil and Tom Walker"?

Expert Answers
mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. Kidd the Pirate left buried gold on the banks of Boston. He eventually died and the devil now guards the hiding place.

2. Tom Walker takes a shortcut home through the swamp and meets Old Scratch, who is the devil. He offers Tom a large sum of money in exchange for certain conditions. Tom says he has to talk it over with his wife.

3. Tom and his wife do not like each other. They are described as mean and greedy. Tom's wife wants him to make the deal, but Tom doesn't want to share any wealth with his wife. She gets angry with him, and goes off to make the deal herself. When she doesn't return, Tom goes searching for her. He only finds her heart and liver and assumes she is dead. He is actually quite happy about this. He is now free to make the deal by himself.

4. Tom makes the deal and becomes a corrupt money lender. He moves to Boston and lives a life of wealth and corruption. He soon becomes disenchanted with this life and worries about his life. He starts going to church to try to find salvation.

5. His attempts for salvation don't work. He hears a knock at his door and a black horse and a black figure await him. He is thrown on the horse and taken to his demise. The final payment for his deal with the devil.

junebug614 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Exposition - Tom Walker, an old miserly man, walks through a forest said by many to be haunted; it is guarded by the Devil. The Devil offers him a deal for his soul, which Tom says he will consider

Rising Action - Tom tells his wife of the deal, who encourages him to take it. The two of them have a terrible relationship, so Tom declines the deal with the Devil mostly to annoy his wife. She goes into the forest and attempts the make the deal herself and disappears. Tom goes to look for her and realizes she's gone forever.  

Climax --  Tom reconsiders and makes the deal with the Devil to be lucrative but unfair money lender. His soul will belong to the Devil upon his death.

Falling Action -- Tom lives his life swindling people out of money by instituting loans with unfair interest rates. Near the end of his life he begins to fear for his soul, so he begins to carry around a bible and attend church. He does not change his behaviors. 

Resolution - Tom's attempt to save his soul doesn't work, probably because he never truly changed his heart or his behaviors. He is taken by a figure on horseback and all of his money and other goods are turned to ash. 

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. Tom Walker and his wife hate each other and share the vice of greed.

2. Tom meets Old Scratch (the devil) in the forest, and the devil offers to make Tom rich if he will barter away his soul for the devil's service.

3. When Tom refuses the devil's offer, his wife becomes angry with him, arranges her own meeting with the devil, and is subsequently "taken" by the devil, never to be seen again.

4. After Tom discovers his wife's fate, he goes through with the deal with the devil and becomes a usurer (someone who charges extreme interest for loans; similar to a cash advance business in today's society), enslaving people to himself and the devil because of their money problems and making himself incredibly wealthy in the process.

5. As Tom nears the end of his life, he begins to fear upholding his end of the bargain; so he becomes religious but all to no avail, for a mysterious figure arrives at Tom's doorstep and whisks him away presumably to Old Scratch's dark domain.

Read the study guide:
The Devil and Tom Walker

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question