People sometimes do not realize what they have in life until it is gone, they take so much for granted. Most people like this are also greedy and selfish in life, and do not appreciate what they already have. Washington Irving expresses these ideas in his story “The Devil and Tom Walker”. He has the main character set as a miserable man named Tom Walker married to a wife just as miserable as himself. They are so greedy, to the point where they try to cheat each other and never stop arguing and fighting. The two live in misery because of all the greed they both have.
Eventually, they die from greed. The wife died by trying to get the devil to give her the deal. Tom Walker died by trying to get as much money as he could from a client in need (Stewart). Washington Irving is responsible for many American classics. He wrote many essays, poems and biographies. Washington Irving had a love for writing and reading of folktales and legends. So naturally, Irving put himself in between American folklore and literature (Watts). Throughout “The Devil and Tom Walker”, Washington Irving expresses the themes greed, selfishness, and temptation, as illustrated by the wife’s greediness, Tom Walker’s greediness, and The Devil’s temptation.
Tom and his wife were greedy, selfish people in their lives together. They both wished to be wealthy, but they wished to be wealthy alone. They were not happy with one another, which resulted in them arguing a lot with one another. When they were both put in situations with the Devil, they chose wealth over one another. When the wife found out that Tom declined the Devil’s offer, she took off and went to find the Devil to make the deal for herself (Irving).
“The Devil and Tom Walker” states,He told his wife about it, however, and she was angry with him for not having closed the bargain at once, declaring that if he had not courage enough to add this treasure to their possessions she would not hesitate to do it… True enough, the woman started for the wood before sundown, with her spoons in her apron. (Irving)The wife did not hesitate to go after the Devil that night. She took some of their valuables, such as their spoons, hoping that the Devil would reconsider giving her the opportunity to take his deal. With the wife so worked up about the situation, she forgot about who she was going to go find and ask for a favor.
She did not think about any consequences (Irving). “The Devil and Tom Walker” states, “An apron was found in a tree containing a dried liver and a withered heart, and near that place the earth had been trampled and strewn with handfuls of coarse hair that reminded Tom of the man that he had met in the woods” (Irving). After the wife took off to find the Devil, she never returned home.
All that was found of her was her apron, a liver, and a heart. Tom knew what had happened, he knew what the Devil had done to her (Irving). Her greediness had led her to her death. She should have been more reasonable with her chances, and she should have realized that going to go force the Devil to make a deal with her, so she can become wealthy was not going to work. Tom was a very greedy, selfish person in life.
He truly only cared about himself, and at the end of the day, he wanted the best for his self only. When Tom found out his wife had disappeared, he went after her, not because he cared about her, but because he wanted to the spoons that she took back. Once Tom found out what had happened to her, he continued to wait for the Devil and make the deal with him instead of looking for his wife. The only thing on his mind was finding the Devil and accepting the Devil’s deal (Stewart). “The Devil and Tom Walker” states, “When Tom discovered that the spoons were gone he, too, set off, for he wanted those back, anyway; but he did not overtake his wife…Tom waited to speak to the dark man, and was next day rewarded by seeing that personage come through the wood with an axe, whistling carelessly.
Tom at once approached him on the subject of the buried treasure—not the vanished wife, for her he no longer regarded as a treasure” (Irving). Once the Devil arrived, he again proposed the deal with Tom, this time Tom accepted the offer. The deal was that the Devil will make Tom wealthy, but in exchange Tom will give the Devil his soul, and take the job of a money lender. Tom being the greedy, selfish person he is, took the offer, thinking that the Devil would not keep up his side of the bargain. The Devil told Tom to start a loan office in Boston, where Tom would drive merchants to bankruptcy, and give the Devil some of his profit. Tom left for the city that night.
At the time cash was scarce, so many businessmen would go to Tom for money, because he had it. Tom was so far into his new wealth and lifestyle, that he had seemed to forget it would not last, and that he did still have his deal with the Devil (Stewart). “In the Devil and Tom Walker” it states, “He even went so far as to move into a new house, to ride in his own carriage, and to eat enough to keep body and soul together, for he did not want to give up his soul to the one who would claim it just yet” (Irving). Tom’s greediness and selfishness resulted in him making the deal with Devil, which gave the Devil the power to take his soul.
A few days later, Tom got a unexpected visitor, for he was not