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Misfortune and Consequences in 'The Devil and Tom Walker'

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Greed, wealth, and religion, everyone either has it, or they do not. People either want this or they do not. When they have it some of them act foolish with it, consequences then come along. The main character Tom Walker meets the devil, who offers him a deal. He’ll give Tom buried treasure but on one condition, Tom gives the devil his soul. Tom soon declines the devil’s offer. He encounters the devil again after his wife’s disappearance. This time he agrees to the deal, he is now a miserable man. The devil soon comes for Tom on a black horse, and Tom is never seen again. Greediness, wealth, and religion, all connect in a certain way. One leads to another, but it all depends on the person. The person can choose to either make the right decisions or do nothing and let the decisions overthrow that person mentally and/or physically. Greediness, everyone has it, some people can control it but some take it to the extreme. Wealth then starts to play a role in greediness, the people begin to want more money for themselves. Then there are consequences and that is when people turn to religion for help.

An author’s life impacts the way they write their novels or stories. It has either happened to them or they notice things around them and begin to write about that idea or topic. This is indeed the case for Washington Irving. The last child of a successful merchant. He was the favorite child of his parents. Studying law in the office under Josiah Ogden Hoffman. He gained lots of knowledge of cosmopolitanism because of a tour he did in Europe from 1804-1806 (Evans and Merrill). Irving moved to Washington D.C. in 1811. Then he returned to New York in 1832. His long absence provided him a new perspective on the United States. Irving moved again, but this time to the West. He wrote many books on his experience. He finally returned to the Hudson to settle with his friends and family. But sadly he died in 1859 (Evans and Merrill). Washington Irving chose the ‘ British literary models’ for a reason. There was a reason why he didn’t choose the American one. It was because he believed that the only hope for American culture was to attach itself to Britain (Piedmont-Marton). Washington Irving wrote, “The Devil and Tom Walker” in 1824. During this time period, lots of people were greedy and wanted to become rich. Washington Irving saw this around him and wrote an amazing short story.

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Everyone has agreed. People say they do not, but they do. This often leads to them doing anything in their power to get it. Tom and his wife love wealth more than they love themselves. They would both rather sell their souls to the devil than have an opportunity to profit. They won’t even spend the money they have, they’re so selfish (Irving). Tom now understands the dangers of greed. He sees how greed has ruined his life and creates strife in the lives around him (Irving). This short story, shows how the satisfaction of greed only makes greed hungrier. And just as the greedy are incapable of caring for themselves, so too are they incapable of caring for, and living harmoniously with others (Irving). This shows you how “ugly” people can get with greed. When people are like this they want even more. They will indeed get more, such as money if they really wanted to.

Wealth, money, probably the number one thing people who have greed, want. When they soon have it, it commences consequences. They realize that their life is soon getting miserable and try to find answers to help them. In this story, sinful behavior is met with punishment, and the devil controls the souls of those driven by wealth. Tom Walker uses the money that he gained to become a usurer; a man who lends out money at great interest to receive even more money in return. Tom is becoming a miser. Tom is now a spectacularly wealthy man, but he is so precious about his wealth that he does not even bother to feed his horses properly because he would rather keep that wealth rather than spend it. Despite the massive change in his circumstances, his original character as a miser has clearly not been altered in any way, and his love of money is still shown to be dangerously extreme. When you have a mass amount of money, sometimes consequences come along and people do not realize how severe they are.

When they need help the first thing they think of is religion. They then suddenly become religious because they think it will better them. ‘Tom’s turn to religion near the end of the tale is a combination of superstition and hypocrisy’ (Stewart). This can be a combination of superstition and hypocrisy because Tom has a deal with the devil, to trade his soul for the buried pirate treasure. If you’re religious you don’t do these things, the devil is horrible. But when Tom tries to break the deal with the devil and goes to church to undo it, it doesn’t work (Stewart). When Tom barters away his soul to the devil and agrees to be a usurer for him, he immediately begins to think of schemes to perhaps keep his earthly wealth and his intangible soul. He goes to church regularly, not so that he can better his community or help others he thinks of it as a way to provide insurance against the devil’s requirement. Similarly, Tom carries around his Bible to ward off the devil or his employees. Tom’s religion does not illustrate a desire to be closer to God or better his ways rather, he views religion as a means of earning more and protecting himself. In the end, Tom’s self-serving, short-term thinking about religion and business causes exactly what he feared most. Washington Irving hinted at religion really well. It was so good a lot of authors or speakers wouldn’t be able to do it nowadays.

Religion, one of the most controversial topics people talk about. It can either go two ways when you talk about it, good or bad. People are really sensitive nowadays. They get offended for every little thing, it is unbelievable. If someone says something even a little bit offensive other people act like it is the end of the world. Some people do not like how you have different ideas or beliefs than them. If you do not believe in what they believe in they automatically cancel you out of their life. One huge thing that can happen if you talk about religion and your words come out wrong, is that it can end any conversation. For example, in the life of a comedian sometimes they poke fun at religion. People then get offended and it can ruin the comedian’s reputation. If they ever do an interview the host can easily end the conversation with, “Why are you against this religion?” So people need to stop disliking people because they have different ideas or beliefs than them. So many roles played into this short story There is also a huge lesson here, owning up to your mistakes and accepting the consequences.

The devil wins and Tom is forced to pay his debt to the devil. He tried to get out of it by becoming religious, but in the end, he had to own up to what he had done. The devil rode him away on a horse into the dark woods, to symbolize sending Tom to hell. An author’s life impacts the way they write their novels or stories. It has either happened to them or they notice things around them and begin to write about that idea or topic. This is indeed the case for Washington Irving. Wealth, money, probably the number one thing people who have greed, want. When they soon have it, it commences consequences. They realize that their life is soon getting miserable and try to find answers to help them. When they need help the first thing they think of is religion. They then suddenly become religious because they think it will better them. Religion, one of the most controversial topics people talk about. It can either go two ways when you talk about it, good or bad. Irving’s story “The Devil and Tom Walker” is a moral tale warning readers against greed and corruption it can cost.    

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