Theme of Greed in The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving

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About this sample


Words: 556 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Words: 556|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

In the book The Devil and Tom Walker which was written by Washington Irving there are many different themes shown. All themes in the story can connect to choices we all could make and the consequences we could regret in our lives today. Greed and wealth are not what satisfies a person's life and give them that “happiness” everyone says money gives. Not thinking through your choices that could last for a lifetime can cause a endless amount of regret and Tom Walker is a great example of someone who's life is ruined by the bad choices he made for himself.

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Tom Walker also learns not to make doubtful promises. Tom does that when he gives his soul to the devil. He doesn't think about how he will be feeling late from then and what effect it will have on his future. In the forest / woods when the devil offers him what seems like the perfect deal he takes it. he doesn't think that he will recant on the deal he had made with his black friend when he nears the end of his life. He tries all he can to get out of his promise by carrying a Bible with him everywhere he goes, making people think he is religious.

The result of choosing greed destroys many people’s lives and what he becomes after he dies. When Tom first came in contact the devil and is offered wealth and fortune he only declines that offer for one reason , because he doesn't want to share with his in lawful wife because he sees her as a terrible person. But when he is again faced with the devils offer he takes it with little to no regard for actions and the result and things that may happen to him . It seems to have no affect. Once he becomes a moneylender in Boston he appears as a aquatintince and go to for the people in need but he slowly manipulated then into them have nothing. Even when a friend faces him in a time of desperate help he doesn't change from his greedy ways and offer compassion or sympathy but instead he challenged the Devil to take him. Tom Walker is then taken to hell on a black horse and all his riches burned up.

At the end of the story, Tom has disappeared and they think he was taken by Old Scratch. The narrator was said to of told all “moneylenders“ to keep this story close to heart. Which many also see as a very important theme of the story. Tom and his wife were miserable and exhausted old people were only looked for wealth and was obsessed with gaining materialistic items. They hid things from each other including money. Tom does originally decline the deal with the devil where his wife tries to make a deal with the devil herself. Tom ends up dealing with the devil and manipulating people and becomes rich.

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The story did talk about morality but it’s main theme was greed. In the 1820s America was in what was considered the “ Market Revolution” which was a time where the economic and social relations in the world changed rapidly and affectively. I believe that affected how this story is interpreted from its readers and the lessons that can be learned from it.  

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Theme of Greed in The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from
“Theme of Greed in The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022,
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