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The Devil and Tom Walker by Irving

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“The Devil and Tom Walker” is a short story written by Washington Irving and it was issued in 1824. The passage takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, and narrates the life of a man who has the decision to sell his soul and take upon the devil’s bargain in return for buried treasure. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown” transpires in Puritan New England during the time of the Salem Witch Trials. It reveals and discloses the secrets of the corrupt village that Brown resides in. He later comes to the understanding that many people within his town are hypocrites due to their association with the devil. We can evaluate the great number of similarities and differences between both stories by centering our attention on the themes, symbols, and world views that are inscribed in these passages.

A theme that brings together “The Devil and Tom Walker” and “Young Goodman Brown” is the false images and personas that a lot of the characters seem to embrace and incorporate into their lives when others are around. In both stories, there seems to be a lot of value placed on appearance. The devil plays a viable role in changing people’s moral and ethical beliefs. He leads and persuades them into commenting wrongful doings with the riches he promises to give them. The forest in both of the passages represents hell. In the story “The Devil and Tom Walker” Irving gives us insight into his assumption and impressions of those who use religion as a form of protection to validate their unrighteous behavior. Tom concluded that he still had a possibility to change his fate by attending Church, and carrying around the Bible. Even with his newfound beliefs he still reminds a hypocrite, a liar, and a cheat just as the devil himself.

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Tom Walker and Young Goodman Brown have two drastically different interpretations and positions on their agreements with the Devil after reflecting on their lives and past actions. Before encountering Satan, Tom is dissatisfied and frustrated. Tom only cares about money. He will do anything that goes against what his wife says… He is offered the hidden treasure but turns down the proposition when he became aware that he would have to become a slave trader. He was grateful for the death of his wife and he is accepting of the idea that the black woodsman had done him a favor by doing so. He built a relationship with the devil and this would give him the possibility to become one of the wealthiest men in Boston. As he gets older and closer to his death he begins to rethink his decisions and becomes paranoid. Brown wants out of the deal he made with Satan. He beings to attend mass and is convinced that his well doings will be able to liberate and free him from the unjust acts that he has committed. Unfortunately for him, he was not saved and he was killed by the Devil. On the other hand, Young Goodman Brown who is a firm religious believer eventually comes to the wakefulness that most of the people that he once looked up to were all frauds. He tells his wife Faith to look up into the heavens and resist Satan. After the ceremony, he believes that most of the people in his town are motivated by self-interest.

Irving and Hawthorne’s works center around evil and malicious intents that are a byproduct of the Devil working his influence on those who desire greed and self-satisfaction that cannot be attained by their own merits. Tom and Brown struggle with the Devil in their own ways. Brown seems to put his faith in abstractions and it prevents him from seeing reality. He is skeptical of what people have taught him in the past and it causes him not to trust anyone. Brown’s life becomes a total lie when he discovers that his father and grandfather had previously made deals with the Devil. Tom’s need for money leads him to commit unreligious and unlawful acts. His association with the Devil is the cause for his death. Tom’s selfish desire for wealth and power is stronger than his religious beliefs. He values material property more than his own wife and his moral principles are distorted.      

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