Folklore, Fantasy and Parable in The Devil and Daniel Webster

Benét uses folklore, fantasy, and the parable to make his argument in "The Devil and Daniel Webster." Notably, Benét is portrayed as being a great orator because the story demonstrates how much Americans adore legends and folklore. As a result, after the severe economic depression that struck the United States, a tale of a real hero is created. Like early American folk heroes and legends like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boon, Benét's portrayal of Webster is founded on facts that have been embellished in certain ways. The reader sees that Webster takes the stone of Jabez given that he has “seventy-five other things to do and the Missouri Compromise to straighten out” (Benét 6). Evidently, Webster’s feats are prodigious, and he depicts great eloquence. Webster manages to convince the 12 desperate villains with his speech from the devils hold from the free stone.

An element of fantasy is also evident from the story. When the clock whirls and it is around midnight, it creates fantasy. Additionally, faiths are seen when Mr. Scratch pours himself a glass of rum, and it ends up steaming. He then summons the jury form the ideas where the farmhouse turns to a courthouse derives an element of fantasy. The funeral bells toll and the “moth” or soul of Miser Stevens fly from the bag of Mr. Scratch creating a fantasy in the mind of the reader. The story is also a parable that manifests that loving money is a way of selling oneself to the devil. Also, a parable evidence a comparison of right and wrong which is seen from Daniel Webster and Mr. Scratch who are opponents. Webster possesses the power of persuasion which proves to be powerful while Mr. Scratch has magical power and he selects his jury from hell.

Comparison to “Gimpel, the Fool” and “The Magic Barrel.”

The protagonist of the story in “Gimpel, the Fool” manages to achieve an element of fantasy as evident in the Benét’s story. However, Singer adds to these fantasy elements of realism and humor where he narrates the happenings of the events in a naïve way with newfound understanding and wisdom. The folklore in the story is evident from the essential goodness and strong faith in a childlike simplicity. Maintaining the childlike tone express the perception of fantasy and the power of love, faith, tolerance, innocence, conformity and the virtue of the powerless (Singer 7). A reader can note that “Gimpel the Fool” does establish a legendary connection between Adam and Gimpel and Elka and Eve. Gimpel's forgiveness of his wife Elka representing to be a parable that indicates the importance of forgiveness. The notable elements from the poem have made Singer's to continue being the most popular story and a primary anthologized work of short fiction.

“The Magic Barrel” is an exploration of the theme self-discovery which is told through a traditional folklore depicting the awakening of passion and desire. It also contains the search and definition for love which utilizes the fantasy of the familiar Malamud pattern. Notably, Malamud does blend the folklore elements of traditional fairy tale along with the Jewish folklore. Evidently, the story starts as a fairy tale written as “Not long ago there lived. …” (Malamud 1). The story features Leo Finkle who is a rabbinical student that looks for a wife and “his sudden appearances, is the supernatural agent; and Stella, Salzman's prostitute daughter, is the princess of the tale” (Malamud 7). Therefore, the story is likewise reminiscent of a fairy tale and this is evident when the prince and the princess meet through the intervention of a supernatural agent and the happy ending. Certainly, similar to Singer who employs folklore, the story uses Jewish folklore that drives the story. The story also takes the form of a parable, and it is narrated in symbolism and metaphor illustrating a moral point where the ethical focus is based on love and value as a way of connecting people to each other.

Works Cited

Benét Stephen Vincent “The Devil and Daniel Webster” 1937. Accessed August 8, 2017.

Malamud Bernard “The Magic Barrel” 1958. Accessed August 8, 2017.

Singer Isaac Bashevis “Gimpel, the Fool” 1957. Accessed August 8, 2017.

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