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The legend of sleepy hollow by Washington Irving

The legend of sleepy hollow


The movie starts with signing of last will of Peter Van Garrett who is together with his son Dirk killed by headless horseman right afterwards. Then the scene jumps to New York where Constable Ichabod Crane fights with the officers who don’t believe in his scientific techniques and therefore they send him to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the mysterious circumstances of three murders in order to teach him respect for the dignity of the officers. He comes to Sleepy Hollow to the house of a wealthy farmer Baltus Van Tassel and is introduced to Dr. Lancaster, magistrate Philipse, reverend Steenwyck and notary Hardenbrook. He learns about the circumstances of murders-all the victims were found decapitated in open ground, their heads weren’t found at all. People believe that they have been killed by headless horseman who is looking for his own head. Crane learns about the death of Hessian trooper.

Another man is killed. This time it is Jonathan Masbath. Body is found in the forest. His son wants to revenge him and starts serving to Ichabod Crane. After the funeral Crane learns from Philipse that Masbath isn’t the 4th victim but 5th. Autopsy shows that widow Winship was pregnant.

Katrina gives Crane her mother’s book and wants him to keep it close to his heart. She is sure it’ll protect him. Crane follows Philipse to find out the father’s name of widow Winship´s child. They are interrupted by headless horseman who is coming for magistrate’s head. Philipse is murdered, and Ichabod is scared more than ever. After some time he finally faces his fears and decides to locate the grave of headless horseman. He is supported by brave young Masbath and later they are joined by Katrina. In the western woods there they find a witch in the cave who advises Crane to find horseman’s grave. Young Masbath finds a bloody tree under which the grave of the trooper is. They find heads of the victims hidden inside the tree. They also find a grave where the trooper’s body has been put but the head is missing. Suddenly, horseman jumps out of the tree and is back on his bloodthirsty way to get some new heads. Crane rides behind him but doesn’t manage to come in time. This time he kills midwife Elizabeth Killian, her husband and boy. Crane fights with horseman but he is not interested in killing Crane. He realizes that victims are chosen by someone who has a power over horseman. Someone had to dig out horseman’s head and now is controlling him.

Crane suspects notary, Baltus, doctor, reverend and magistrate from conspiracy. That very night the magistrate was killed he saw a row among them. He decides to visit notary Hardenbrook to see the last will of Peter Van Garrett. According to last will everything would be naturally inherited by Dirk Van Garrett but he died together with his father. In that case another heir would be Baltus Van Tassel. But there comes another testament in which all estates were supposed to be owned by his brand-new wife widow Winship. Crane believes Baltus Van Tassel is the one who governs horseman in order to get the power over the estates. He returns back to his room where he has left his notes about conspiracy. He finds Katrina reading these notes. Later when she leaves the room he finds the evil eye drawn under his bed.

At night he hears someone’s leaving the house. He follows the person to the forest where he finds stepmother with her lover making love. She cuts her palm by knife. He returns to his room and finds out that his notes are gone, taken by Katrina who wants to protect her father against Crane. She hates him now he believes in her father’s guilt.  Next morning Crane meets stepmother in the kitchen but doesn’t say anything about last night. She knows he saw her and asks him to promise he won’t tell her husband. Baltus comes and informs about notary’s death. He hung himself. There is going to be a meeting in the church in the evening against Ichabod Crane.

Baltus sees murder of his second wife. He runs to the church where the meeting starts followed by headless horseman. Katrina draws evil eye. Horseman can’t get inside. Reverend, doctor and Baltus have a row. Reverend kills the doctor who wants to say the truth about testaments and marriage to Baltus. Consequently reverend is shot by Baltus. Baltus climbs the stairs near the window. Horseman takes advantage of the situation and throws a stake from the fence against Baltus. He kills him, pulls his body behind the fence of the church and cuts his head off. Crane sees the evil eye drawn by Katrina and he starts to think it is Katrina who rules horseman. He likes her and therefore he rather decides to leave Sleepy Hollow than to accuse her from murders. On his way from Sleepy Hollow he opens the book Katrina gave him. He finds the symbol of evil eye drawn in the book under the headline For the protection of loved one against evil spirits. He immediately returns back to the village to examine the body of stepmother. He finds out that the scarf on the palm of the body found has been made after the death. It can’t be stepmother’s body.

Katrina is going to be killed by horseman, because she is heir of the estate. She is with the stepmother who tells her all the truth about her life, revenge and the way she uses headless horseman. Basically, family Van Tassel has stolen her home, life after her dad’s death. Headless horseman is coming together with Crane and young Masbath. They are all trying to escape from the mill. Eventually get to the grave of Hessian trooper where the stepmother-witch is already waiting. She shots Ichabod Crane. Fortunately, the book from Katrina that he keeps close to his heart saves his life. Crane realizes that the power over horseman is in owning his head. He takes the head from the stepmother and gives it to horseman. Horseman returns back to his bloody tree taking stepmother with himself. The story ends happily as Crane comes back to New York taking Katrina and young Masbath with himself.


- Ichabod Crane- main character, supporter of scientific techniques, scarves on both palms of his hands caused when he found his mother killed(he was only seven by that time), investigates murders in Sleepy Hollow, scared of headless horseman but tries to fight his fears.
- Ichabod´s mother- we can see her only in his dreams, innocent, child of the nature, murdered to save her soul by tyrant= Ichabod´s father.
- Katrina Van Tassel- daughter and the only child of a wealthy farmer Baltus Van Tassel, falls in love with Ichabod Crane, tries to protect and support him, reads loves stories, has a stepmother because her own mother died two years ago, heir of the estate after Baltus´ death.
- Baltus van Tassel- a wealthy farmer, banker, landlord in Sleepy Hollow, until the marriage of widow Winship and old Van Garret would naturally inherit all the estates of Peter Van Garrett.
- Elizabeth Van Tassel- Katrina’s mother, left several romance books that her daughter loved and kept aside from her father as he believed reading romances causes the brain fever that kills people.
- Peter Van Garrett- the richest man in Sleepy Hollow. A husband of widow Winship. Killed by headless horseman.
- Headless Horseman- a ghost of Hessian trooper sent by German princess to keep Americans under the control of England, enjoyed killing people by decapitating them, died not far from Sleepy Hollow in western woods where his grave could be found under bloody tree. Looks for his own head to find a piece in the grave as his head has been dug out by stepmother.
- Magistrate Samuel Philipse- killed by headless horseman, tells the truth about widow Winship that she was pregnant, had given a protection of law to unborn child of widow Winship.
- Notary James Hardenbrook- hangs himself, knows the truth about the last wills of old Van Garrett and that he was a husband of widow Winship.
- Reverend Steenwyck- killed by Baltus Van Tassel, lover of Katharine’s stepmother, performed the marriage of Peter Van Garrett and Emily Winship.
- Dr. Thomas Lancaster- killed by reverend Steenwyck in the church, Sarah’s lover, knows that widow Winship was pregnant as he attended pregnant woman.
- Stepmother= bad witch- family name Archer ,child of the farmer, has one sister, both parents died when she was little, had to live in woods because noone wanted to accommodate them(mother was suspected to be a witch), taught magic by her mother, caused death of Hessian trooper when he was trying to escape from danger(she made noise and soldiers knew where he was immediately), saw his death, used him to revenge her 20years later= governor of headless horseman. Second wife of Baltus Van Tassel. Kills Sarah, acts like she is going to be killed by horseman but in fact she is not, instead of her body people find Sarah’s .
- Widow Emily Winship- pregnant with Peter Van Garrett= she would heritage all his estates as she became his wife, third victim of headless horseman. Horseman takes a head of her unborn child as well.
- Sarah- servant in Baltus Van Tassel’s house.
- Witch in the western woods- sister of stepmother.
- Jonathan Masbath- faithful servant of old Van Garrett, signed the last will of his landlord, widow, one son.
- Young Masbath- offers his services to Ichabod Crane in order to revenge his own father. The only living Masbath. Brave little boy.
- Elizabeth Killian- midwife who knew that widow Winship was pregnant with old Van Garrett, told the truth to stepmother, therefore was killed by headless horseman together with her husband and little boy.

New York; an isolated village called Sleepy Hollow (near Hudson river, 2 days journey northward from New York), western wood near Sleepy Hollow, Garret’s mill, Tassel’s estate, church,
Few months before 19th century, 20 years after horseman has lost his head.

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