The Headless Horseman

Madeline H. Marcus K. Connor T


The Headless Horseman by Michael Irving
The Headless Horseman is not your typical ghost story. It is a story
of lust, greed, and most of all rivalry. A singer and schoolmaster
named Ichabod comes to a small town called Sleepy Hollow, that is
rumored by the inhabitants to be haunted. He is a favorite of many
young ladies, but he has his eyes set upon a single one. The only
child of a rich landowner named Van Tassel, not for who she is but for
her future inheritance. However, he had a strong rival named Brom
Bones. At the end of the story, Ichabod is invited to a party at Van
Tassel's house where many stories of ghosts were told. He also sees
Brom with Katrina and recognizes that he has lost her. While he rides
home in shame he is attacked and taken down by the "Headless Horseman"
and is never seen in Sleepy Hollow again.
Nobody missed him very much since he was a bachelor and not in debt,
but Brom seemed to know more than he would let on about what happened
to Ichabod.

Element - Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is when the author is revealing an important event that will happen later in the story. It sort of alludes to what is going to happen and it gives the reader a hint as to who and what will be involved later on. In the book, the author says, "The tale was told of old Brouwer, a most heretical disbeliever inghosts, how he met the horseman returning from his foray into Sleepy Hollow, and was obliged to get up behind him; how they galloped overhill and swamp until they reached the church bridge. There the horseman suddenly turned into a skeleton, threw old Brouwer into the brook, and sprang away over the treetops with a clap of thunder. This story was matched by Brom Bones, who made light of them Galloping Hessian as an arrant jockey. He affirmed that, on returning one night from a neighboring village, he had been overtaken by this midnight trooper; that he had offered to race with him for a bowl of punch, and should have won it, too; but just as they came to the church bridge, the Hessian bolted, and vanished in a flash of fire"(Irving). This part is very important to the story. Later on in the story, Ichabod thinks that if he makes it to the bridge then the Headless Horseman will leave. That was his goal when he was riding away from the horseman. Instead, when he makes it to the bridge, the horseman throws his "head" at him. The excerpt foreshadows the event that happens later in the story. It helps the author develop the thoughts of Ichabod and create suspense in the chase scene.


  1. What is foreshadowing?
  2. From the summary, what is an example of foreshadowing? (Don't take the example from the lesson)
  3. In the following quote, how is foreshadowing shown? "Another of his sources of fearful pleasure was to pass long winter evenings with the old Dutch wives, as they sat spinning by the fire, with a row of apples roasting and spluttering along the hearth, and listen to their marvelous tales of ghosts and goblins, haunted bridges and haunted houses, and particularly of the headless horseman."