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Rip Van Winkle

  • Date Submitted: 08/30/2010 05:06 PM
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Rip Van Winkle 1

Rip Van Winkle Paper
Roger Armstrong
ENG 242/ASB 861
Mr. Russ Hughes
November 18, 2008
Rip Van Winkle 2
Rip Van Winkle Paper
To many people, the story of Rip Van Winkle may be considered nothing but a mere children’s story meant to entertain.   However, the story is much more than that.   I believe that the Washington Irving’s purpose in writing Rip Van Winkle was to critique America’s escape from tyranny.
The story Rip Van Winkle takes place in eastern New York near the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River.   The story ranges from a time prior to the American Revolution to several years after the war has ended.   The physical locale of the story plays an important role in the story as they lend continuity.   Although politics have changed the landmarks are the same.   “There stood the Kaatskill mountains-there ran the silver Hudson at a distance-there was every hill and dale precisely as it had always been” (p. 132).
The tone of the story is very sympathetic toward Rip Van Winkle.   Rip was described as “a simple good natured man; he was moreover a kind neighbour, and an obedient, henpecked husband” (p. 125).   His wife, on the other hand, is described as one of those “shrews at home…[who creates a] fiery furnace of domestic tribulation” (p. 125).   Therefore, from the beginning of the story, the reader feels sympathy for Rip and hopes that he will be able to escape his nagging wife.   By the end of the story, the reader’s hopes are fulfilled as Dame Van Winkle has died.
The theme of an escape from tyranny is conveyed in the story most obviously as Rip’s escape from the tyranny of his wife and more symbolically as America’s escape from the tyranny of England.   When he returns from his nap and finds that his wife has
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died, he experiences “a drop of comfort” (p. 135).   He realizes that he had been living under a “petticoat government” and thought “happily that was at an end-he had got his neck out of...


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