In the stories The Devil and Tom Walker and The Devil and Daniel Webst
"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
In the stories “The Devil and Tom Walker” and “The Devil and Daniel Webster” there are
many differences that come to mind in the plot, setting, characters, and theme. One story is
more specific on setting, when the other is more into the plot.
For instance, in “The Devil and Tom Walker” the story goes into great detail of the
countryside, like the thickly wooded swamp, the beautiful dark grove, and how the land rises
abruptly from the water’s edge into a high ridge. Irving tries to place the reader in the story
by giving these details. In “The Devil and Daniel Webster” the story doesn’t go into as much
detail about the surroundings. Benét focuses more about Jabez Stone’s farm and his bad luck,
like when he plants corn, he gets borers. The only real detail he gives about the surroundings
is that he lives on the Cross Corners of New Hampshire and that he’s on a farm. The story
doesn’t give much description on what his house looks like or the scenery.
Also, in “The Devil and Daniel Webster” it tells the story at a quicker pace. Jabez meets
the Devil and makes a deal before the story and plot really develop very much. In the “Devil
and Tom Walker” the story goes into a lot of details about how his house is raggedy, ugly, and
trashy looking. No man traveling ever stops at their house. His wife hides things, is mean, and
a loud-mouth. The story describes how Tom walked through the murky swamp and how he met
“Old Scratch” unlike “The Devil and Daniel Webster” when all the story talks about is how his
plow broke, how angry he was, and by being angry called the Devil. “The Devil and Tom
Walker” has a much stronger development and really tries to place the reader in the story.
The appearance of the Devil’s are different as well. In “The Devil and Tom Walker” the
Devil is ugly, has hooved feet, and looks like a dark-skinned woodsman, while in “The Devil and
Daniel Webster” the Devil is clean, wealthy, well-dressed, and gentleman-like. The wives in the
stories also differ, for instance, Tom’s wife was a “tall termagant, fierce of temper,
strong-armed woman”, while, Jabez’s wife was a “decent” woman.
Another reason the stories differ is because at the end of “The Devil and Tom Walker”,
the Devil gets Tom’s soul, unlike “The Devil and Daniel Webster”, Daniel Webster represents
Jabez and wins, therefore, Jabez keeps his soul.
Last, but not least, the theme of the stories different, as well. In “The Devil and Tom
Walker” the Devil gets what he wants, proving that fear of the Devil and hiding from him will
not save you. In “The Devil and Daniel Webster”, however, Daniel wins by showing no fear and
saying the right things, thus, proving evil doesn’t always win.
“The Devil and Tom Walker” and “The Devil and Daniel Webster” are very different even
though they both deal with bargaining with the Devil. Also, a lesson can be learned from the
story. Be careful what you say and wish for, you might just get it...whether you like it or not.
View Full Essay