The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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Katrina Van Tassel Character Analysis

The only daughter of Baltus Van Tassel, a wealthy Dutch farmer, who is courted by several village youths but especially by Brom Bones and Ichabod. Katrina is not portrayed very favorably in the story: she is a flirt and encourages both her suitors to continue pursuing her even as she refuses to choose just one. Nevertheless, Katrina is certainly independent for the standards of her time: within the constraints of being a woman in 18th-century America, she exerts her own kind of power through her beauty and the wealth that marrying her would confer.

Katrina Van Tassel Quotes in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The The Legend of Sleepy Hollow quotes below are all either spoken by Katrina Van Tassel or refer to Katrina Van Tassel. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow published in 1999.
Main Story Quotes

He would have passed a pleasant life of it, in despite of the Devil and all his works, if his path had not been crossed by a being that causes more perplexity to mortal man than to ghosts, goblins, and the whole race of witches put together, and that was—a woman.

Related Characters: Diedrich Knickerbocker (speaker), Ichabod Crane, Katrina Van Tassel
Page Number: 278
Explanation and Analysis:

Once again, the way Knickerbocker narrates the story of Ichabod's sojourn in Sleepy Hollow has a tongue-in-cheek humor to it. Ichabod may terrify himself with the tales (that he nevertheless adores) of "ghosts, goblins" and witches, and yet a woman—that is, Katrina Van Tassel—is shown to be even more powerful in her hold over him. This equivalence reminds us both of Ichabod's hyperbolic reaction to supernatural tales and of his difficulty of distinguishing between reality and the supernatural. Against both, Knickerbocker suggests that Ichabod's attitude will be one of attempting to fight what he understands as great force with his own kind of force. He will attempt to "conquer" Katrina just as he conquers his fears, as he tends to treat her as a material object to be won more than as another person. 

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As the enraptured Ichabod fancied all this, and as he rolled his great green eyes over the fat meadow lands, the rich fields of wheat, of rye, of buckwheat, and Indian corn, and the orchards burdened with ruddy fruit, which surrounded the warm tenement of Van Tassel, his heart yearned after the damsel who was to inherit these domains, and his imagination expanded with the idea, how they might be readily turned into cash, and the money invested in immense tracts of wild land, and shingle palaces in the wilderness.

Related Characters: Diedrich Knickerbocker (speaker), Ichabod Crane, Katrina Van Tassel
Page Number: 279
Explanation and Analysis:

Ichabod is attracted to Katrina, viewing her earlier—to continue the language of gluttony—as a "tempting morsel," but here we learn that there is a more powerful motivation for Ichabod to win her over and marry her. As the daughter of a wealthy farmer, Katrina (or rather her future husband) stands to inherit not just the wealth of the farm but also the rich culinary delights that can be harvested from the fields of wheat and corn and from the fruit orchards.

This passage also exemplifies Ichabod's tendency towards wild imaginative escapades, not only in the realm of the supernatural, but also in any enterprise. Here his imagination truly gets ahead of him, galloping into a future full of entrepreneurial projects and profits, before he has made any headway in actually wooing Katrina. Ichabod's imagination will force him to be more realistic in attempting to win her over, but the force of what he imagines and the reality of his low chances of doing so will remain far apart.

Brom Bones, too, who, shortly after his rival’s appearance conducted the blooming Katrina in triumph to the altar, was observed to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin; which led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he chose to tell.

Related Characters: Diedrich Knickerbocker (speaker), Brom Bones , Katrina Van Tassel
Page Number: 296
Explanation and Analysis:

Much of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has been concerned with the competition between Brom Bones and Ichabod Crane to win the hand of Katrina Van Tassel. Here, Brom Bones is shown to have won that battle, as he marries her and gains access to her father's estate and wealth. Even without facing Ichabod in direct, face-to-face battle, Brom has managed to conquer him. At the same time, it is suggested that Brom is much wilier than others, including Ichabod, believed. Brom is unable to fully hide his satisfaction at Ichabod's abandonment of the village, insinuating through his laugh and knowing looks that his own plot was at work in driving his rival away. 

The narrative thus suggests that greater knowledge might be what can do away with supernatural beliefs. Brom is able to dismiss the fear of the marvelous because he knows what really happened that night with Ichabod (perhaps), while the other inhabitants of the village must resort to other beliefs.

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Katrina Van Tassel Character Timeline in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The timeline below shows where the character Katrina Van Tassel appears in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Main Story
War and Battle Theme Icon
Consumption, Appetite, and Greed Theme Icon
...confronted with a more terrifying being than ghosts and witches: a woman, or more precisely Katrina Van Tassel, the only daughter of a wealthy Dutch farmer, whom Ichabod meets through his... (full context)
War and Battle Theme Icon
Consumption, Appetite, and Greed Theme Icon
Ichabod deems Katrina “so tempting a morsel” as to warrant his attention—particularly once he visits her at the... (full context)
Reality, Imagination, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Consumption, Appetite, and Greed Theme Icon
Such abundance attracts Ichabod to Katrina even more. He quickly imagines growing rich from the farm, reinvesting the gains, and setting... (full context)
Reality, Imagination, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
War and Battle Theme Icon
Though Ichabod has fixed his sights on Katrina, he is now faced with difficulties—those more complicated than the giants, dragons, and enemies of... (full context)
Reality, Imagination, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
War and Battle Theme Icon
Brom Bones is also in pursuit of Katrina, which discourages other candidates, who withdraw in despair. But Ichabod, who is cheerfully persistent against... (full context)
War and Battle Theme Icon
Katrina’s parents allow both rivals to continue: Baltus Van Tassel tends to spoil his daughter, and... (full context)
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...require constant struggle to vanquish. Brom Bones seems not to be able to exclusively conquer Katrina’s coquettish heart. He comes less and less to her farmhouse, and begins to desire open... (full context)
War and Battle Theme Icon
Consumption, Appetite, and Greed Theme Icon
...buckwheat fields. These remind him of the abundance awaiting him if he manages to marry Katrina. (full context)
War and Battle Theme Icon
...to peer in, and they are amazed at the sight. Ichabod is thrilled to have Katrina as his dancing partner. Brom Bones sulks jealously in the corner. (full context)
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Consumption, Appetite, and Greed Theme Icon
...a close, and Ichabod lingers, confident in his imminent success, in order to speak to Katrina. Knickerbocker does not know what happened at this meeting, but believes something went wrong, since... (full context)
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Reality, Imagination, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...Van Ripper’s reaction to losing his saddle, and partly from embarrassment at being rejected by Katrina. He had continued teaching and also embarked upon the study of the law, before becoming... (full context)
Reality, Imagination, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Brom Bones married Katrina shortly after Ichabod’s disappearance. He tends to put on a knowing look anytime someone tells... (full context)