In the movie and the short story, “The Devil and Daniel Webster”, written b Stephen Vincent Benet, there is illustrated the battle between the forces o good and evil. Although the story allows the reader to mentally picture th scenes and the movie does the depicting for the viewer, there are severa similarities in each script. Some of these similarities are the way th characters are depicted and the final scene. There are several incongruou scenes between the short story and the way the movie unfolds.
The difference are the amount of time that is spent on the character development, also ther are some scenes added into the movie such as the harvest dance and the reminde of the contract. There are three main characters in this short story/movie. The are Scratch, Daniel Webster, and Jabez Stone. The actors picked for the role fit almost perfectly to the descriptions of the characters in the short story. Scratch is described as a ” soft-spoken, dark-dressed stranger…whit teeth…were filed to a point”. As shown in the movie the actor was also very darkly clad man. He also had a very soft, hypnotic voice and whenever h smiled his teeth were very shiny and pointy.
The man described as “the bigges man in the country…when he stood up to speak, stars and stripes came right ou of the sky…and when he argued a case, he could turn on the harps of th blessed and the shaking of the earth underground” was Daniel Webster. In th movie the actor who filed his role was a very big man with a powerful voice. Th last character, Jabez Stone, wasnt given a very active role in the shor story, but he was described as ” an unlucky man…he had a good wife an children, but the more he had the less there was to feed them.” In the movi Jabez is seen more throughout the unfolding of the tale and his family life wa a little different. He had only one child and that was after the contract wit the devil was made. The ending to the short story took place in Jabezs bar and consisted of a jury filled with the ruthless dead.
This was also how th movie was played out. Even the closing speech that Daniel made wasnt tol word for word in the short story, but the way it was spoken in the movie seeme to sum up the way it was supposed to be in the short story. It had the sam affect because it made ” the glitter be gone from the eyes of the judge an jury, and, for the moment, they were men again, and knew they were men.” The only difference in the movie that I didnt like as much was that the Devi didnt seem as intimidated by Daniel Webster as he did in the short story. He just laughed at Daniel and told him hed get him in the presidency race.
Ther are even more differences between the scripts then there are similarities. Th first of these is the way the characters are depicted. I already pointed ou that Jabez had a bigger role in the movie and that he only had one child. Hi wife, her mother, the neighboring farmers and the housekeeper were also give more substantial roles in the movie. His wife, Mary, was there to dote on hi and also to show her support for him after all the farmers had turned on him. Her mother and the farmers, who werent even mentioned in the short story were there to act as Jabezs conscious.
The mother always seemed to appea after something bad happened. The farmers were there at first to get him t join the Populist movement and the Farmers Guild. When he refused that an took the devils offer all he would do was gloat. They eventually turned o him, this is different in the short story because in it they were very fond o him and even wanted him to run for state senate. The housekeeper was also aroun a lot and for some reason after the baby is born she changes into Belle, a ver seductive, young women. This is one thing about the movie that I didnt lik because it distracted from the whole idea of the contract he made. In the movi Jabez moves into a new home where he hosts a harvest dance. During this scene h pushes his wife away and Daniel comes to take her and their son. Also in thi scene Mr. Stevens contract is up and Scratch turns him into a moth and place him in the box.
I liked how the interaction between the Devil and Jabe occurred, but I thought the scene with Mr. Stevens swirling around and finall collapsing was a little too much. He should have just been struck dead. That i why I do like the one scene where the Devil after Making the contract with Jabe writes the termination date in the trunk of the tree so as to remind Jabez ever day. Also the scene with Jabez trying to cut down the tree as to break th contract was very effective. Overall the way the director decided to interpre the short story was not the same as I did while I was reading it. For the mos part he tried to stick with the script, but with the scenes he tried to chang they didnt seem as effective. However the scenes he decided to add and th characters he expanded on were a great choice and brought the story alive. characters he expanded on were a great choice and brought the story alive.