The Devil and Daniel Webster
I'd fight ten thousand devils to save a New Hampshire man.—Daniel Webster.
The Devil and Daniel Webster is a 1937 short story by Stephen Vincent Benét, which in turn was based on the 1824 short story "The Devil and Tom Walker" by Washington Irving. Both stories are based on the legend of Dr. Faustus.
Its protagonist is Jabez Stone, a man for whom fortune has never shined and has, in fact, laughed upon. That all changes when the sly Mr. Scratch, who is none other than Satan himself, comes visiting. Jabez sells his soul to the devil and enjoys seven years of contractual good luck. However, near the end of the deal, Jabez decides to find some way out of it; he finds it in the famed attorney Daniel Webster. Now, Jabez can only hope Webster can give him a chance out of hell.
Its most well known adaptation was a 1941 film, starring Walter Huston as Scratch, Edward Arnold as Webster, and James Craig as Jabez Stone.
Was given a short musical parody by DominicFear
- Affably Evil: The devil is depicted as not all that bad of a guy, considering. He's only asking that Stone uphold his end of their bargain, and when he loses the case he takes it in stride.
- Butt Monkey: Jabez Stone
- Deal with the Devil
- The Devil Is a Loser
- Hanging Judge
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Yes, Daniel Webster was a great statesman. No, he did not possess a pair of horses that could outrun the wind, a ram that could butt through an iron door, or the ability to sink a river into the ground with his oratory.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Not all of the jury of the damned were really that evil in reality. In particular, Thomas Morton was only evil in the sense of being an enemy of Puritans and was an early proponent of treating Native Americans decently.
- In the Style Of / Spiritual Successor: It's written in a sort of Tall Tale style which fits the literature written at the period that it's set, and also shows the influences of American Lovecraft Country stories, specifically "The Devil and Tom Walker" by Washington Irving
- Jury of the Damned: the Trope Maker
- Louis Cypher
- Patriotic Fervor
- Setting Update: Shortcut to Happiness.
- Shout-Out: Not only does the Superman novel Miracle Monday make reference to the events of TDADW, the basic premise (Superman beating The Devil's agent with just his righteousness) is inspired by it.
- Take That: The story's last line is one against Vermont and Massachusetts.