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A theme that always has been popular, specially among young people, is terror or the horror stories, there are many books, movies, TV shows, comics, and so on, but the most expressive, and imaginative, is literature. Literature since a long time ago, has produced many kinds of horror stories, novels, tales, short stories, plays, even poems, all of them with very different themes such as vampires, ghosts, leprecons, evil and estrange creatures. A characteristics of this themes is the fight between evil and good, the evil forces managed by the Devil against God’s forces, but in some stories the Devil has no opponents, so he makes all he wants. One story of that kind is ?the Devil and Tom Walker? ,wrote down by Irving Washington , in a time when religion and moral values were very important for people. Is about those values that the story talks about, a greedy man that can sell his soul for a gold coin, and only thinks in himself, there’s no fight between Evil and Good, is a story about greed, and how it destroys our humanity.
Humanity, in this case, means all moral, cultural, and spiritual values of human race, that means the things that make us different from animals,but we always destroy our humanity , sometimes we behave worse than animals, fighting for a simple piece of paper. This behaviour is called greed, considered as a capital sin, greed has its origins since human kind , some people say the Devil, created the conception of property and money. Greed is older than man, we can say we created it, and now is out of control, mainly because of human nature, a very independent being, that makes what he wants. These elements converge in the story we mentioned, ?The Devil and Tom Walker? in it the author shows the power of the Devil and greed.
The story takes place in a small town in the 1720’s, in those times religion was very influent, and the need of money was too. That atmosphere is the perfect setting for a story about Devils and his powers over man, Devil was considered ,and still is, the author of all bad things, illness, sin, greed and so on. What Irving wanted, was to relate a story about the devil, but no as a protagonist, the main character is human kind represented by Tom Walker. This representation is quite exaggerated , but it reflects exactly our nature. Human nature isn’t easy to explain, but it’s possible to remark on some aspects, that the author exposes in his work.
The first point is the beginning of the story, it talks about the relationship between Devil and money, and how he keeps it for his cheats. According to the story the Devil keeps a treasure waiting for his next victim, in this case the Devil more than a protagonist is a symbol, the symbol of the other side of us, our deepest feelings and thoughts , that thing that make us do thinks against social, and religious rules, the devil is only one excuse for our behaviour. He make us lie, steal, and awakes our wishes when their are stronger than our integrity. Let’s clarify this point, the Devil is the symbol that represents all the negative thing in human life, so he will always try to takes us to his side, throw us into our own hell. A place created by ourselves, with our actions.
Next there’s another interesting point in Washington’s story, the fact that the main character , Tom Walker? isn’t a good man, moreover he is a vulgar, a man without feelings, and his only true love is money, even he is married he doesn’t love his wife, his marriage is like a business association. Tom has all society forbids, that’s why he can’t be seduced by devil, he’s already a bad man, grew up by greed.
With that kind of attitude, Irving tries to show the effects of greed, first greed makes us beings without feelings, and steal our dignity, to explain this point is necessary to refer at some passages of the story , the first one is when Tom sees a human skull when he was into a dark forest, next he saw a man of estrange appearance, it was the Devil, who told Tom about the treasure buried in the forest. Next when Tom’s wife knew that, she decide to go at the forest, face the Devil, and ask for the treasure. This only proves , that greed is so powerful, that makes a man or a woman, people without fear or common sense, the need of money, can change a coward into the bravest man on earth.
Greed also steal our feelings, in the story Tom’s wife went to look for the Devil, but she didn’t comeback, after a time Tom decided go to the forest, and look for his wife, no because he loved, the true reason was that he wanted to recover the things, his wife picked up for her travel, next Tom discovered his wife was death, but he wasn’t sad by the loose of his possessions, he consoled himself with the death of his wife. A clear example of how greed steals our feelings, we appreciate more material things than our family, we can live with the death of a familiar, but if we loose material things our lives are empty and sad.
Another point is the Tom’s wife death, symbolised by the crows, animals related with death since a long time, she was looking for money, but she only found her own death, greed and die are so related, that one is consequence of the other, history refuses that, there are many wars, and homicides as a result of greed, hungry of richness. A hungry that will make you kill or been killed only for money.
Next is the fact that greed generates greed, when Tom finally get the treasure, he became an usurer, a person who borrows money, without guaranties, but collects very high benefits. Tom become an usurer, and in that position he can earn more money, he borrows two cents and gets fifty, ruining the life of anybody in the need of easy money . Greed makes you want more and more, as richer you are as poorer you feel. You can be the richest man on earth, but it’s not enough you need more.
Finally, the most common characteristic of greed, the hypocrisy . After a long time and when Tom realised he will die soon, he started to carry a pair of bibles and go to church, all this wishing cheat the Devil and save his poor condemned soul. But he didn’t change at all, he still was an usurer, and a very greedy person. A greed person has no moral, so he can lie and be hypocrite because he lost his dignity, is a person that says one thing, and makes another . Poor Tom he thought that going to church could save his soul, but he was wrong, greed also will destroy you, and your wealth as Tom’s possessions will disappear into ashes.
As a conclusion, we can say greed is a thing that has the power to make you brave, steal your feelings, make you an hypocrite, and finally burn your soul. All this things are exposed in Washington’s story, but no in a direct manner, the message is told through symbols, the dark forest, the crows, the vulture and Tom’s attitude. These symbols are easily understood , so the message is clear. What Washington made was some kind of story that wants to teach that greed is bad, and defeat it only can be done by ourselves, we are the only ones who will save our soul.
* I apologise for any grammatical or syntactical error (I don’t speak English very well, as you could see) please send your comments or corrections at firstname.lastname@example.org I will be glad to know your opinions.
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