Setting in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Setting Examples in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow:

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow 3

"The horizon was of a fine golden tint, changing gradually into a pure apple green, and from that into the deep blue of the mid- heaven. A slanting ray lingered on the woody crests of the precipices that overhung some parts of the river, giving greater depth to the dark gray and purple of their rocky sides...."   (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

This delicate description of the sun’s setting over the Hudson Valley seems to evoke Ichabod Crane’s state of inner serenity and hopefulness as he approaches the festivities. This an example of the pathetic fallacy, a literary device by which a character’s inner emotions are described through descriptions of an external landscape.

"However wide awake they may have been before they entered that sleepy region, they are sure, in a little time, to inhale the witching influence of the air, and begin to grow imaginative, to dream dreams, and see apparitions...."   (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

Even those who are not originally born in Sleepy Hollow feel its effects after living there for a while. The list of purported effects—which affect one’s perception of the world—are likely to be felt in the story, setting the stage for a ghostly apparition later on.

"Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power..."   (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

According to Knickerbocker’s research, Sleepy Hollow is a place given to superstitions. The land seems to cast a spell over its inhabitants. The source of dreamlike apparitions is the landscape itself, which provides the perfect backdrop for ghostly encounters—including frightening ones. The setting foreshadows Ichabod’s encounter with a ghost by providing just the right place for it.