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The Accomplished Life Of Washington Irving

1708 words - 7 pages

SmythPJ SmythEnglish 11HMts. SimonsonNovember 9, 2008On April 3, 1783 literature in America was forever changed. On that day the multi-talented author, essayist, biographer, and historian, Washington Irving was born. He would lead a fulfilling life, where he published many works, successfully most of the time. This success would lead to recognition, not only in the American community, but also in the global community. His dealings in Europe would also encourage many other authors such as; Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Edgar Allan Poe to follow in his footsteps. However; there were many factors in his life that ultimately influenced him into becoming ...view middle of the document...

As Warner stated, "He endeavored to bring up his children in sound religious principles, and to leave no room in their lives for triviality." (10) This stringent way of living ultimately forced Washington away from his father into a different path of life, to the theater. To Washington, "The theatre was one of the forbidden sweets, and he naturally seized every chance to taste it. Family prayers at nine were something of an interruption, but he had managed a private exit by way of the roof which got him back to the theatre in time for the after-piece. This early liking for the stage he never outgrew" (Boynton 4). He would constantly have to disobey his family in order to continually go to the place that he loved him so much. His father constantly exhorted him against going to these places and doing something with his life, but still Washington did not. The theatre would then become a major contributor to Irving's writings in the future.Washington's scholastic career can be described as desultory and deficient, as he hopped from teacher, to teacher, and ended at age 16. He had neither the patience, nor the discipline in his teachings. Studying was not his forte, as he preferred to submerge himself in classic literature such as "Robinson Crusoe" and "Sinbad" (Warner 11). All during his life Washington had to deal with the fact that his brothers were so much more successful than he was, as they both got scholarships to Columbia University to study law. Even still, Washington got into law and eventually became a paralegal. However, he was also dissatisfied with the legal system, and constantly gave it up to go to the local "watering hole" (Boynton 4). This discontent with all types of trades not associated with literature would lead him to become an advocate to make author a profession in America.These early events would influence greatly the way in which Irving wrote. As a child, Irving was greatly intrigued by the great figures of the past. He then paid his respects to these famous personas by writing biographies of them (Dudley 19). These people include; George Washington, Christopher Columbus, and Muhammad. Irving also loved to visit many different places, and he would include many of these places in his stories. The famous Sleepy Hollow was actually a small town near New York City in the Hudson River Valley (Ross 1). Irving would constantly use these places as his settings in his short stories, and he would describe them vividly and meticulously. Most of the time; however, he described the landscape of the area in a gothic sense. This is mainly because of the literary period in which he wrote. During his lifetime, romanticism was going on throughout the world. Despite the name, romanticism has nothing to do with love or romance; however, it was an international, artistic, and philosophical movement that redefined the fundamental ways in which people in Western cultures thought about themselves and about their world (Bonner 1). One of the main...

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