Symbolism of Rip Van Winkle Written by Washington Irving

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Washington Irving’s myth is about a male who’s named Rip Van Winkle, and that he lived in a tiny town close to the Hudson Valley. All of the people in the town really like him because he would help anyone or anything that needed the help. Anyone that knew him is happy with but not for his unpleasant wife, Dame, their marriage is a symbol for the American Revolution. Irving makes the ethos of him as a symbol to stand for Royal England and its way to treat the Colonies. His character stands for the society of America being pressured away by England.

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Through the whole story Washington Irving hands Winkle, a specific part in Rip’s life. This defines Dame as just a hindrance in Rip ‘s life. Dame is a preside ruling over her suffer Rip until her death. Their marriage conflicts were so bad that Rip would “heave a heavy sigh whenever he thought of encountering the terrors of Dame Van Winkle”. These actions are similar to those of the early American settlers and England. It is apparent that Washington Irving wrote Rip Van Winkle with the early American settlers at heart. Written at time when society was going through a drastic change due to the American Revolution.

Royal England taxed the early American colonies to be able to pay for the costly seven years’ war and its imminent protection. This deed produced a major problem among the American colonies. As the author says, “His fences were continually falling to pieces.” The author goes on to say that even, ‘his children, too, were as ragged and wild as if they belonged to nobody ‘. He was always wanting to help tend to his neighbor’s farm and not tend to his own farm. Nevertheless, maybe this can be seen as metaphor in the fact that Winkle’s family was falling apart while the people of the town were gaining from his upheaval against the people that were in charge and the needs of his family, much like the he was losing respect while America while he was gaining the loyalty of his own people.

The American Revolution was a change in the setting of Rip Van Winkle. Many of the things that Rip came to know as normal had now changed, so “The red coat was changed for one of blue and buff, as word was held in the hand instead of a scepter, the head was decorated with a cocked hat, and underneath was painted in large characters, General Washington”. Rip is accustomed to the royal face of King George, but now he has to adapt to the current times. The American Revolution plays a major part in this story. When Rip awakens after a two decade slumber he is unaware of how much the world around him has changed. Rip arrives in the town shocked when he finds the image of King George III replaced by George Washington. Another important conflict in story was for society to figure out who they are, Americans are in an identity crisis at this time, they do not know who they want to be. The people of America, two decades after Rip Van Winkle fell asleep, found their identity through the revolution. Rip, also having difficulty finding himself throughout the story, Irving shows the reader “above all he is an escapist, a man who flees from tyranny, whether it be called England, civilization, womankind”. With the overbearing authority Dame Van Winkle gone, Rip Van Winkle is able live the rest of days happy. Rip Van Winkle, much like America, could now enjoy the new freedom that he deserved.

Finally, the reader understands the significance of Rip Van Winkle’s story and why it is relevant to American Literature. Rip Van Winkle is still a very famous reading to this day and still seen as one of Washington Irving’s best stories. At the time America also overcomes the fierce control of England and obtained there well deserved freedom. In the end Rip finds joy and his own sense of patriotism by overcoming his marital despair.

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Symbolism of Rip Van Winkle Written by Washington Irving. (2020, Nov 19). Retrieved December 9, 2022 , from

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