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Imagery in the Devil and Tom Walker

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The devil is often thought of as a fiery, red man with pointy, protruding horns. He is also known to be greedy and has cruel intentions toward man. But, literature like The Devil and Tom Walker and The Legend of Stingy Jack use the devil as a constituent to reveal the unpleasant sides of people.

Jack, the main character In The Legend of Stingy Jack, is a drunk that constantly plays tricks. One day he runs into the Devil and offers his soul in exchange for a drink, and when the Devil turns himself into a coin to pay for the drink Jack sticks him into his pocket next to a silver cross. Jack also “refused to let the Devil go free until the Devil had promised not to claim Jack’s soul for ten years.”(The legend of Stingy Jack). Jack made the Devil the victim and also threatened his freedom. Ten years later, Jack entraps the devil and forces him to promise to never take his soul, This makes the Devil seem stupid.

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When Jack finally dies and isn’t allowed into heaven for his deceitful ways and continuous drinking he goes to the gates of hell. There, he has turned away because the devil “kept the promise that had been made to Jack… and would not let him enter.”(The Legend Of Stingy Jack). The Devil did not play any tricks or manipulate Jack to get his soul. In fact, the Devil proved to have more morals than Jack by sticking to his promise to never take his soul. Since Jack is no longer present in flesh, he is inferior to the Devil and follows his command to go back to earth. Miserable Jack begged the Devil to provide light so, “The Devil tossed Jack an ember straight from the fires of Hell. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed-out turnip… which he carried around with him whenever he could steal one.”(The Legend of Stingy Jack). Unexpectedly, the Devil shows that Jack is sad and helpless without his tricks. He also reveals that Jack is a thief.

The main character in The Devil and Tom Walker is not just stingy, like Jack, but very greedy. One day, Tom Walker takes a shortcut through the dark woods and runs into the Devil that spoke of gold and buried treasure. When Tom got home he told his wife of the hidden gold and she immediately “urged her husband to comply with the black man’s terms… to sell himself to the Devil”(Irving 3). The Devil’s bribe exposes how greedy and selfish she is. She wanted her husband to sell his soul so she could have gold. In fact, she was so greedy she went into the woods alone to meet the Devil and get the gold herself. Shockingly, she never returned. When he went to look for her in the woods he, “leaped with joy, for he recognized his wife’s apron, and supposed it contains the household valuables.”(Irving 3). Although Tom went out to find his wife, his focus was on his household values such as teapots and silver spoons. Later, Tom makes a deal with the Devil and agrees to drive people out of their money. Tom forces foreclosure on the needy. He extorts bonds and causes bankruptcy of hard-working merchants. Driven by the Devil’s deal, Tom builds a wealthy life by taking others’ rightfully earned property or money.

In conclusion, the Devil is not always the source of evil in stories. He was fairly smart in The Devil and Tom Walker and was loyal to his word in The Legend of Stingy Jack. The Devil portrayed more favorable characteristics than the main characters as he only aided and revealed their audacious ways.

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