In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane has come to Sleepy Hollow to fill a position as a school teacher. Crane has no real appreciation for the descendants of the Dutch settlers who become his neighbors and his intention, on discovering Katrina's great wealth, is to acquire it for himself. As an outsider and a man with imagination - and not much else - Crane is easily manipulated into believing the "direful tales" because No tale was too gross or monstrous for his capacious swallow," and this allows "Brom Bones," Crane's rival for Katrina's affections, to take advantage of Crane's weakness in ultimately driving him out of town.
As one of the "quietest places in the whole world,"the reader is drawn into the community, a community where a person is bound to be affected by the "drowsy, dreamy" setting and where people like Crane, "inhale the witching atmosphere of the air, and begin to grow imaginative." The superstitions (numbered below)which abound include talk of Sleepy Hollow having been,
(1)bewitched by a High German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, (2) that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there..."
The "dominant figure" which pervades the area, however, is (3) "said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War." Crane, lacking any real self-awareness and who, as a "man of letters," sees himself as superior to most other people, takes the story too seriously.
There are many tales, including other superstitions about
"(4) funeral trains, and mourning cries and wailings heard and seen about the great tree...Some mention (5)was made also of the woman in white, that haunted the dark glen at Raven Rock, and was often heard to shriek on winter nights before a storm, having perished there in the snow."
As Crane returns home, his overactive imagination scares him and makes him feel "lonely and dismal." Crane is convinced that the headless horseman is chasing him which is too much for him. His horse bolts and is later found but not Crane, his disappearance creating its own mystery.