It is clear that Brom Bones, the rival of Ichabod Crane for the love of Katrina Van Tassel, is a humorous, strong but mischevious man. He threatens to physically harm Ichabod, but when he is not given any opportunity to "double the schoomaster up, and lay him on a shelf of his own schoolhouse," he emabrks on a campaign of psychological warfare, drawing upon "the funds of rustic waggery in his disposition." He is left to play silly jokes on his rival that do not physically harm him but besiege him with a whole host of worries and cares. Ichabod thus becomes the object of "whimsical persecution" to Brom and his gang, and suffers various torments, including smoking out his singing school, stopping up the chimney and deliberately re-organising his schoool room. This makes Ichabod think that this house is bewitched and he is the focus of some kind of supernatural attention:
... so that the poor schoolmaster began to think all the witches in the country held their meetings there.
Brom Bones is therefore a rather cunning, brash and intelligent individual, who seems to be able to recognise his opponent's weakness and knows how to attack it, which of course foreshadows his masterstroke of impersonating the headless horseman.