Sleepy Hollow as Iconic American Gothic

For today’s entry in Gothic Week I have decided to choose one of the essential American Gothic tales.   Sleepy Hollow tells the tale of school teacher Ichabod Crane as he maneuvers his new role in the town of Sleepy Hollow, in upstate New York!    When arriving in Sleepy Hollow he meets the lovely young woman named Katrina van Tassel.

Katrina is the only named female character in the story, and she is said to be loved by Brom Bones (a nickname).    She sometimes is thought to have loved Brom also, and used Ichabod as a way to make Brom jealous!    Ichabod also learns quickly of the story of the Headless Horseman.

The Headless Horseman had been said to have haunted the town of Sleepy Hollow since the days of the American Revolution.   He had once been a Hessian solider fighting with the British, and when he was beheaded he began haunting the town looking for a replacement head!

Now this is a story everyone, particularly every American, knows.   It has been told and re-told countless times.   In this post I would like to acknowledge some of my favorite tellings of this classic tale, that is always popular this most magical time of year! 

Firstly I want to say that I have long adored the Disney version of this tale from the animated film The Adventures of Icabod and Mister Toad.   Now the Mister Toad portion is based on The Winds in the Willows, and served the first portion of the film.   However, for me, this film is all about the second half.   That is where we get the Ichabod Crane story!   It is a delightful and comic cartoon take on the tale.   I genuinely enjoy the aesthetic of the animation, and how Katrina is styled.

The second version of the tale I must talk about is my favorite version.   Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow film starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci is the ultimate version of this tale.   At least in my humble opinion it is!   I cannot get enough of watching this very dark and creepy take.    Johnny Depp does an incredible job as an investigator version of the character.    Christina Ricci played Katrina to perfection.   Miranda Richardson played Katrina’s step-mother, and a witch, so well.   I loved her badass character almost as much as Katrina!   I love to watch this version each Halloween season!

Finally my third version to discuss is the Sleepy Hollow television show that had three seasons on Fox.   This version sees Ichabod brought to the modern day.   He had been a soldier in the American Revolution, who knew all the secrets of the founding fathers.   He was also married to a beautiful witch, named Katrina!   I really adore this redheaded witchy version of Katrina.   She and Ichabod have a great and romantic love story that keeps me watching this strange series!    I recommend it for anyone who is interested in a new twist on the age old tale.

I hope you have enjoyed my short overview of this great Gothic tale.   Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Christina Ricci from the film.   I had to use one of her, because her costumes are just incredible in that movie!   I found the image on

Further Reading/Watching

  • Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad (1949)
  • Sleepy Hollow (1999)
  • Sleepy Hollow (2013-2017)