What are some symbols in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"?

Some symbols in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” include Cotton Mather's History of New England Witchcraft, the Headless Horseman, and the pumpkin. Irving uses these symbols to explore the nature of superstition.

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The community of Sleepy Hollow, as portrayed in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow ,” is mired in superstition. Despite virtually everyone in this neck of the woods being a God-fearing Christian, some remnants of old pagan beliefs still float around, manifesting themselves in countless myths and ghost stories. Irving...

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The community of Sleepy Hollow, as portrayed in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” is mired in superstition. Despite virtually everyone in this neck of the woods being a God-fearing Christian, some remnants of old pagan beliefs still float around, manifesting themselves in countless myths and ghost stories. Irving incorporates several symbols that illustrate superstition, including Ichabod Crane's copy of Cotton Mather's History of New England Witchcraft, the Headless Horseman, and the pumpkin.

Ichabod Crane, despite his education, is deeply superstitious. Crane's favorite book is Cotton Mather's History of New England Witchcraft. The book thus symbolizes Crane's gullibility, convinced as he is of the existence of dark, demonic forces lurking around every corner.

This makes him the perfect target for Brom Bones's wicked prank. Brom knows just how superstitious Ichabod really is, and so he figures that if he can convince his rival that he really is being chased by the legendary Headless Horseman, then he stands a good chance of driving him out of town.

The Headless Horseman, then, can be seen as a symbol of the tension between reality and fantasy, between the natural and the supernatural. As Ichabod Crane, due to his being mired in superstition, cannot resolve this tension, Brom is able to exploit it fully and scare Ichabod so much that he leaves town.

Finally, the pumpkin that Brom Bones carries as a facsimile of the horseman's head represents the hollowness of superstition. The pumpkin is sufficiently convincing to scare Crane, but the resulting image of the pumpkin smashed on the ground represents the fragility and absurdity of superstitious beliefs.

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