Rip Van Winkle
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Rip Van Winkle
Rip Van Winkle, is one of the short stories, written by a famous American author Washington Irving. It was first published in 1819. This story has an unusual and appealing topic, in which a Dutch-American villager named Rip Van Winkle used to live in colonial American. Rip fell asleep in the Catskill Mountains and woke up after twenty years, so he missed the Revolution because of his sleep. This story is based on the local history of America that was influenced by European folklore. Rip fell asleep before the start of Revolutionary War. Rip was portrayed as a well-liked man in this story. He used to work on the farm rarely, and one day, he went for hunting with his dog and wolf, to avoid farm work as well as his wife who used to argue with him over their children and many other things. This story is an allegory to the revolutionary movement and has depicted significant changes of history.
From the story, it could be seen that, main character of this story Rip Van, went to the woods and met some unusual creature. There he went to sleep and for him, it was just like normal sleep, but when he woke up and went back to his village, he came to know that everything was changed, even his wife died and he met his daughter with her family. People first became suspicious about him but when he told them, his story; they accepted it ,that he slept for twenty years. Rip missed the time when things in world changed, and it could be seen that his experience was more dramatic than anything else. He felt, that he has lost most essential things that people have enjoyed, but if this story is analyzed deeply, it would be seen that all the years that he spent on the mountains were the time of his freedom. He got freedom from all the hardships and responsibilities. As a whole this story is pointing towards the tyranny of King George III of Britain.
By this story, the writer has spotted a light on the subject of change, it could be seen that Van as an individual was sleeping but the time didn’t stop for him while he was not conscious, there came a radical change in the American and Britain history. One of the main things that have been seen in this story is that Rip slept as a British citizen but woke up as an American citizen. The writer in this story has used fiction to show that time flies and never waits for anyone. From the revolution point of view, it could be seen that Rip when returned to from woods he entered in a completely new world. The main thing that changed, is Rip’s life and his surrounding, he observed that everything was changed. The writer has used this story for pointing towards the American Revolution, in which one of the things that remained same was the nature of man and the thing that changed is time. Character of Rip has been used as an allegory for America.
One of the significant things in this story is Revolutionary war and his wife; both are the representation of pressure and responsibility. In the first part, it could be seen that Americans were living under the British rule and it has been showcased through Rip who was living under the pressure of his wife. In the middle of the poem, it could be seen that Americans were trying to seek their own identity and were struggling for freedom, from the British rule. The same thing could be seen in Rip's life as he also struggled to get rid of his wife for some time by moving to the woods. In the final part of the story, it could be seen that America got freedom from the British rule through American war; the Patriots won the war of independence for becoming the United States of America. Though Rip lost his wife, friends and many other things and became old. In a nutshell, it is said that he got freedom from the things there were a source of hustle for him.
In the story, Rip and America went through the same circumstances as nothing remained the same in both. Rip lost precious time and many loved ones during that time while America also lost many lives in the war. Another significant aspect of the story is that the story started and ended at the same place, but the environment changed with time as the hold of King George ended making American an independent state (Dinshaw,et,al,2016). One who stays out of touch like Rip would remain behind in the race of the world, but that place and villagers, took part in the war of freedom and change, walked with the world. Irving used the element of fiction to represent that one who walks with time and struggles hard, changed their life in positive terms but one like Rip would stay unchanged. So as a whole, it could be concluded that in this work, theme of freedom and change has been used by Irving, and used fiction to represent life story of a man who fell asleep for twenty years and missed the American Revolution. Almost everything was changed in Rip’s life; as the author highlighted a difference between the pre-Revolutionary war and post-Revolutionary war. The buildings were changed, and even the government was changed about which Rip had no idea about. It is an allegory with hidden meaning, where there is literal as well as symbolic representation of things for the readers.
Dinshaw, Carolyn. "Rip van Winkle in the East Village: Queer Times in Stories, Stories in Queer Times." (2016).
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