Washington Irving

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What are the main themes in Washington Irving's short story "Legend of the Engulfed Convent"?

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The main theme of this legend that Irving creates or repeats in this compelling tale is the power of legends to outlive their origins. Let us remember that it was during the Moorish invasion of Spain that the pious Abess asks the Virgin Mary to save the convent and the nuns in it by swallowing up the convent into the bowels of the earth. The fact that there are still visions of nuns so many years afterwards, and the sound of their quiet, secluded life can be heard give testament as to how powerful the strength of this legend is. Note what the holy hermit explains to the cavalier when asked about the visions that he experienced:

"Forty years," added the holy man, "have elapsed since this event, yet the bells of that sacred edifice are still heard from time to time, sounding from underground, together with the pealing of the organ, and the chanting of the choir."

As a result of this haunting, the Moors avoid this territory as being haunted ground. The story thus both shows the power of legend and how it lives on but is also a testament to the devotion of the nuns and the power of Christianity in the face of Islam.

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