I hate you. I love you. Go away. Come back. I need you. I want you. Get out of my face. You disgust me. I never want to see you again. We have all used these phrases and words in an argument. In the heat of the moment, in hard times, in trying times, in desperate times, these words come out time and time again eventually driving someone in your life away. We then as a human being feel lost, confused, sad, and alone. As a human you spend your life trying to find yourself and the person you are meant to be. In this case, for Winkle, he spends his life after leaving a nagging wife trying to find himself in an unusual way. As like all humans Winkle goes through the emotions of an unpleased wife, losing himself, and finding his way on his own.
In Rip Van Winkle, Winkle has been scolded by his wife for several years, he then has enough of it, takes his dog, and a gun and goes into the woods. When you read this you automatically think some sort of self-harm about to happen, which is what we all do in today’s time. This isn’t the case with Winkle, he was lost, confused, sad, and alone. He was struggling to understand whether he was still himself or is he another man completely? Couples dispute all the time, break-up, divorce, split up, and one always goes off and feels lonely, lost, confused, and sad. They also feel like another person and have trouble understanding who they are after they’ve been through something like that. I argue that today’s culture and the culture back in 1800’s with Winkle are still carrying the same meaning as to how a person can change going through an event in your life like this. Everybody loses their way from time to time.
Winkle and his wife have disputed for years on end, day after day, night after night. Winkle cannot seem to please his woman anymore. After some time, Winkle decides to grab his gun and dog, take off into the woods, and sit there going through memories in his wallet. This sets up in your head that Winkle is fixing to play back in his head all the good times, analyze where it all went wrong, and then administer self-harm with a gun. He does not. He sits against a tree, feeling the emotions, remembering, and seeking. Is Winkle himself or somebody else? Can he find his way back? The opening gives a strange vibe with Winkle’s view historically. Winkle, in fact, did not use books nor sources, just the words in his head to create such a powerful poem depicting the mind of the readers.
Winkle travels through the woods for years of his life after leaving. There is no man who does that in today’s time after leaving a woman. In today’s time people argue that some people change completely, some people go back to old habits, some even result in to illegal activity, but not one man has just gone into the woods to figure himself out with his dog and gun. I can argue that there is similarity between the event then and how an event would be now. Winkle does not go against his wife’s control. Despite what others may say, Winkle still lived his life, and he lived it the way he wanted too. Men today sometimes get to the point where they do not simply care, and once they are out of the situation, they are in they go on about their lives, but sometimes other men are destroyed from this. But today the situation can go either way. It depends if the person if feeling sad, lost, lonely, or confused, and if they are trying to find their self, or another person completely.
Winkle fell asleep in the woods for 20 years. Two decades, a revolutionary war, and some changes later he wakes up. Whether he has found himself after sleeping for so long, I cannot answer that, what I can give you though is time stops for nobody. Time goes on. Things keep moving forward. Whether a person is here or not, nothing stops for anybody. Winkle’s ex wife and children grew older and changed, the world changes around him, everything but Winkle changes because he was asleep. Winkle was tired and sad, sleep was his go-to. His wife had turned him into a lazy, worthless man some may say. I could argue the opposite. Winkle was a very well-respected man in the community, he was always helping others, so I ask myself which version is Winkle? Is Winkle the man he wants to be in the community and just trying to get out of a marriage he never wanted to be in like most men today?
Suffering identity issues is arguably one of the most difficult things for a person to go through. When Winkle jets off, he is in question of his entire life. The man has been nagged at for several odd years that he does not know of anything else. The wife nagged and complained which made his identity questionable, while the community loved him and thought highly of him which made him feel like somebody. Let’s argue this, back then a man suffered from knowing who he was when he was shown two different outcomes from two very different parties, now in today’s time its almost exactly alike, but the two different parties are usually of friends and family instead of a whole community that they had helped recently and for years past.
When going through life changes there is some psychological part that plays inside of the person. A person experiences several life changes, some good and some bad. You and I can argue this statement all day long, but at the end of the day you are not the same person you were when an event like Winkle experienced happened. With identifying yourself, comes with depression, anxiousness, anxiety, self-consciousness, fear, sadness, loneliness, stress, and most importantly mental distractions. Winkle felt the fear, sadness, loneliness, stress, depression, but he carried on anyways. Any person would beat their-self up about feeling this way, while Winkle never argued against his wife’s wishes, he got what he wanted and left. There was no therapist, medication, psychological evaluations, therapists, or cognitive therapy done for Winkle. His therapy happened when he sat down against the tree and went to sleep for twenty years.
Rip Van Winkle was a man lost and confused. He needed to clear his head of all things. He falls asleep for twenty years as his coping mechanism after leaving his wife who thought he was lazy and avoided all labor work as much as possible. When Winkle wakes up, he finds out that his wife is dead, but he feels no emotions from the news. Winkle is not sad, nor does he show any anger or ill will about his wife’s passing. Psychologically one would, but for some reason that is yet unknown of Winkle he feels nothing. Some would argue with me that the sense of not feeling any emotion with an event like that is cruel, but the man was asleep for all those years, that remembering who he was would be more than enough trouble for him to get through. I prove a point when I say, every body’s state of mind is different. Do you see yourself mourning over the death of a wife you left twenty years ago, or do you see yourself wondering what happened around you and who you are now? Think about it.
Today and back then, still carry the same meaning of what happens when a person goes through a traumatic event such as Winkle’s. Each person has their own coping mechanism when such events occur throughout their lifetime, whether it be therapy, gym, walking, running, cooking, doing crafts, reading a book, everybody is different, much different than Winkle going to sit in the woods with a gun and his dog and fall asleep for twenty years. I will finish my argument with this quote stated by Marcel Proust, ‘Why, when we regain consciousness, is it not an identity other than the one we had previously that is embodied in us? It is not clear what dictates the choice nor why, among the millions of human beings we might be, it is the being we were the day before that we unerringly grasp.
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