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Being the first American man of letters, Irving is renowned for his best and prolific tales. He was born in New York in a family of eleven in 1783. Among the famous tales we have “The legend of sleepy hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”. Throughout his life, Irving was a great biographer and an eminent state man who stood out against all odds to offer the best literature ever.
This paper seeks to analyze the tale “The Adventure of the German student” which was written by Washington Irving in 1824. Absence of reason as well as balance, together with having excessive enthusiasm by the youths in the modern world is destructive.
Initially, Irving began his writing career in 1802 when he wrote “The Morning Chronicles”. He selectively used mockery letters which consequently earned him recognition amongst the New Yorkers. Due to health conditions, Irving was forced to relocate to Europe, but eventually returned in 1806. He ventured in the writing career with his brothers, but the venture seemed an unprofitable a condition which forced him to abandon it.
The death of his girlfriend Matilda Hoffman was a major blow to his social life and his writing career (Irving, [a] 55). As a result, Irving went back to Europe, particularly England, where he worked in a family business. After a lengthy period of indecisive life, Irving finally decided to make literature writing his livelihood. In the period that was between1819-1820, there was notably the most strenuous moment for him as he worked himself up in building a name and a portfolio.
To date, Washington Irvin is appreciated for his unrelenting efforts in creating and composing great tales of terror ranging from Europe to America. His extra-ordinary stories of horror and romance caught the attention of the many readers throughout the world.
The Adventure of the German Student
In 1824, he published the tales of a traveler which reflected the French revolution (Irving, [b] 65). The key character in this tale was a young German student who resided in Paris. Gottfried Wolfgang was his name and he came from a good, well up family. Having studied well, he was possessed by a visionary and enthusiastic character which made him wonder in wild and hypothetical doctrines. His secluded and singular life affected him both physically and mentally.
The effect was so severe that it impaired his health and infected his psychological, emotional and imaginative sense. As a result, he created his own world which was influenced by an evil genius spirit that assisted him to unfold his inferno. Additionally, the character created a temperament gloomy physic which made him haggard and exhausted. His friends having noticed the mental, physical and emotional disorder, they offered to assist him by sending him back to school to finish his studies.
Having gone back to studies during the breakout of the French revolution, his mind was captured by the political and philosophical theories of the time. However, the bloodshed and the inhuman activities which followed later traumatized his sensitive nature and worsened his character.
He secluded himself from all these by staying in a solitary apartment amongst the student quarters. While there, he pursued his speculations and spent most of his time in the great libraries in Paris (Irving [c] 35). Throughout this period, Wolfgang was extremely shy and ignorant, but beside he passionately admired the female beauty and elegance.
It was during this confusing state that he had a dream which kept on recurring every now and then. In his dream, there was a face of transcending beautiful female which he could not interpret. The picture haunted him for a long time that he thought it was a fixed idea which bothered men and sometimes people mistook it for madness.
One night as he was going back to his apartment, Wolfgang was terrified by the lightning and wavering gleams which he witnessed. He saw it as an actively engaged carnage eager and ready to finish the innocent, silent and sleeping victims for nothing. The successive lightning flashes clearly revealed the scene.
He was shocked to see a female figure in front of him, dressed in black and seated on a platform. The descriptive features which the female possessed had something awful as she was above the ordinary and common order. She seemed to be heartbroken and devastated, having been rendered desolate by the dreaded axe of the nature (Andriano 28).
Wolfgang approached her with a passionate and sympathetic tone despite having been haunted by the same face in his dreams. After emotionally accosting her, the lady admitted of living without a friend and a home. They had a touching and emotional conversation which greatly touched the student to a point of offering his humble dwelling as a shelter, and himself as a friend. The student likewise confessed of not having a friend and the stranger confided herself totally to the protection of the student.
By the time the student tried to support her and guide her across the street, the storm succumbed and thunder could only be heard rumbling from a far distance. During this moment, the whole of Paris was quiet and only human passion filled the place (Irving and Neider 42). They swiftly moved across to the hotel; a notion which astonished the old attendant at the reception.
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Since the student had a solitary and secluded lifestyle, the presence of the female companion greatly shocked the hotel attendant. Until when the attendant brought the lights, Wolfgang contemplated about the stranger as her beauty; she completely intoxicated him. As the description holds, the lady was pale and had a dazzling fairness plus a cornucopia of a raven hair. Her eyes were large and vivid and she had a singular expression; her black dress was permissive enough to show her great figure and shape visibly.
The unique beauty and innocence of the lady made the student more confused as he was entrusted to protect her. At first, he thought of seeking refuge elsewhere that he could live behind the lady’s room. However, her charms and beauty could not allow him to do so. Her relaxed and confined sense proved that she was very much comfortable with the student and this too influenced his first decision.
Their intimate feeling towards one another made the student narrate his mysterious dream of how she had fully taken up his world. This was however equally reciprocated in her intimate feelings towards him, consequently changing everything from then. His theorist, old prejudices and superstitions tended to affect his decision; a battle he successfully won by pledging himself to the stranger (Cady 78). The stranger also offered herself in totality to the student and thus completing an awesome union of the couple.
Early in the morning, Wolfgang decided to walk around and seek a more spacious apartment which could accommodate his new bride and make a start of their new life. He returned later in the day only to find her beautiful bride lying dead on the bed with her head hanging at the edge.
He was terrified by the scene and as a result, he raised an alarm and the police came around. Meanwhile, Wolfgang whined and painfully mourned of his beloved stranger until the police officer entered in to the room. Shocking enough, the tale ended on a very shocking tone as the police officer seemed to recognize the lady.
The unfolding of the news made the student burst into a frenzy (Irving, [d] 60). The monster in her possessed the man and made him to be lost forever. As the tale ends, it leaves the reader confused and lost too, wondering who the female stranger was and what she was representing in the scene. Although the man was possessed by the evil spirit, we are left wondering for what reason he had suffered so such.
Was he possessed by the evil spirit because of his welcoming and compassionate heart towards the female beauty? Or is it because of welcoming a total stranger in his house, despite being lonely and without a house? Such questions will always torment the reader or the listener of Washington Irving tale on “The German student”.
This story “The adventure of the Germany Student” serves as warning against absence of reason as well as balance, together with having more than enough enthusiasm. This is the main theme of the story.
It was out of excessive enthusiasm and lack of reason as well as balance that drives this you man to get closer to stranger and deeply falls in love with her. He goes beyond the limit and fully trust this stranger only eventually realize that this is not a normal human being. The result of all these is the young man losing his mind and becoming “mad, in fact permanently after realizing that he was in love with a dead person.
This story is told by an old man to group of listeners, as the author puts it. May be the old man is trying to warn young people about the challenges and strange things they might face ahead of them if they cease to have self control and being unable to have a clear idea about whom to associate with and the consequence of being passionate to a stranger.
This is a problem that is greatly affecting the youths in the contemporary world. They need to come to a realization that not all that glitters is gold and should be able to distinguish between wrong and right and should be able to account for the activities they engage in. If the youth learned something from this story, they will be able to lead a better life and avoid going “mad” permanently the way Wolfgang did. This story has a moral lesson for the youths today.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Absence of reason as well as balance, together with having excessive enthusiasm by the youths in the modern world is destructive. Having studied some background information on Washington Irving, we can clearly understand that the story on the adventure of the German student is a self-illustrative story which seeks to walk us through his real life experience.
Having been, physically and psychologically affected by the death of his girlfriend Matilda in 1809, he was left alone and in a helpless state. The tale therefore explains some of the consequences that human beings go through when they lose their beloved ones.
From the tale, it is quite significant that excessive obsession of whatever kind can negatively transform a normal and properly functioning being into a worthless living creature. We therefore need to be cautious at all times when we tend to have a great affection on anything in life. Particularly, men become wild and start behaving in an awkward manner whenever they tend to be obsessed by the female beauty.
In order to overcome such disorders, they need to socialize themselves and avoid living in a secluded environment as it results into an imaginative and lonely state, which ultimately affect their thinking and objectives in life. Such measure will significantly fight the evil spirits which go along with the obsession state of mind. Although, as young scholars, we ought to be visionary and enthusiastic about life, we should put some limits beyond which we should not risk our lives.
Such limitations will not only safeguard us from the adversaries of life, but will also help us maintain our focus and objective in life. Additionally, we should learn to comprehend and appreciate what we possess in life. Liberal thinking is also important as it help us to question some of the experiences we come across in life. The changes in doctrines should also be accompanied by behavioral change in order to make a suitable match.
Andriano, Joseph. Our ladies of darkness: feminine daemonology in male gothic fiction, New york, Penn State Press. 1993
Cady, Edwin Harrison. The growth of American literature: a critical and historical survey, California; American Books. Co. 1956
Irving, Washington [a]. Tales of a traveler, New York; Harvard University. 1850
Irving, Washington [b]. The works of Washington Irving, Volume 7, Virginia; University of Virginia. 1849
Irving, Washington [c]. Bracebridge Hall ; Tales of a traveller ; The Alhambra, New York; Library of America. 1991
Irving, Washington [d]. Tales of a traveller, Volume 2, New York; J.Murray. 1824
Irving, Washington and Neider, Charles. The complete tales of Washington Irving, New York; Da Capo Press. 1998