What are some similes, metaphors, personification, and sensory references in "The Devil and Tom Walker"?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The strong imagery in the story appeals to various senses. The swamp is dark and forbidding, "grown with great gloomy pines and hemlocks." It is a visual image of pits, quagmires, weeds, moss, slime, mud, rotting trees, and "stagnant pools" of water. The sounds of thunder claps, howling, hooting owls, and horses' hooves are heard in the story, and the "sweet-smelling" Indian sacrifices are referenced.

The major example of personification is the characterization of evil in the physical form of the devil who appears as a dark man, soiled with soot and dressed in "rude half-Indian garb." In this personification, the devil acts and speaks, luring Tom into a bargain that will cost him his soul.

There are numerous similes and metaphors throughout the story. Tom and his wife's home is metaphorically a "den of discord" and the greed which sweeps over New England is a "great speculating fever that breaks out now and then."

Some of the story's similes include these: The trees rot in the swamp, "looking like alligators sleeping in the mire," and Tom makes his way through the swamp by "pacing carefully, like a cat, along the prostrate trunks of trees."

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