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Dame Van Winkle Versus Rip Van Winkle Essay


Did Rip Van Winkle changed through out the story and why?

Washington Irving is the first American literary humorist, who has also written the first modern short stories. One of his best known short stories is Rip Van Winkle. Its about a man, who one day goes into the Kaatskill Mountains and after drinking some liquid falls asleep. When the protagonist wakes up he learns that he has been sleeping for twenty years. In this essay I am going to analyse what caused Rip Van Winkle to change.

The main character was having difficulty finding himself throughout the story. His wife constantly nagged at him probably all in good reason. In this story Rip was portrayed as lazy man who did not want to do any type of work, at home or at work. He was said to be useless on his farm, his land and property falling to pieces. However, Rip should not be believed to be a sluggish man. Rips laziness could be interpreted as an attempt to avoid and, at the same time to object his wife, Dame Van Winkle. It is shown in the way how Rip is being loved by the villagers: he always helps his neighbours to do various jobs, plays with children and dogs are not barking at him. Furthermore, the nagging of his wife is what led to Rips escape into the Kaatskill Mountains. Once up there he took in all the beauty that surrounded him. To him this was heaven; away from everything, including most of all, his wife. It is noticeable that the author uses many words to describe the scenery such as magical to distinguish the scene or lordly to describe Hudson River (this is to reflect on its magnificent size, especially from his view). When the protagonist describes the other side of the mountain he uses such words as far down, deep, wild, and lonely. It sounds like Rips interpretation of what his life is now. At this point he was faced with the question of where to go? Should he go back down to the pit of hell or stay up in the glorious, peaceful mountains? This is just one of the many comparisons Irving makes though out the story.

When Rip Van Winkle returns to his town twenty years later, he finds that things have dramatically changed. It was a time when the parties of the Democrats and the Federalist came out. This is known because when Rip was walking back into town he was being asked which side he votes on and whether he is a Federalist or a Democrat. In addition, King George no longer has control over the colonies, and many of Rip Van Winkles friends have either died or left town. At this point, the story reaches its climax, where the protagonist realizes that his life may be changed forever. Moreover, Dame Van Winkle represents the Revolutionary War. The changes of states and empires made but little impression on him but he did not like the petticoat government. He describes the government as if it were a woman. "Petticoat" is a representation of Dame Van Winkle. Van Winkle pays no attention to his wife nor does he fight back, just as he did not fight in the war. Or, was this his war he was battling? When Van Winkle reflects on top of the mountain, he heaved a heavy sigh when he thought of encountering the terrors of Dame Van Winkle. Terrors come to mind when one thinks of war.

To sum up, Rip Van Winkle and the town have changed the end of the war has set them free. For the war brought liberty and citizenship to the town, and the end of Dame Van Winkle brought liberty to Rip. He changed. He was happy to be freed of the yoke of matrimony, and could go in and out whenever he pleased.

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