An Examination of Rip's Character in Irving's Rip Van Winkle

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An Examination of Rip's Character in Irving's Rip Van Winkle

Washington Irving wrote Rip Van Winkle with the American people in mind. At this time society was changing drastically. America was attempting to go through a struggle with forming their own identity. America was wanting to have an identity that would set them free from English culture and rule. Irving uses his main character, Rip Van Winkle, to symbolize America. Rip goes through the same struggles that America was going through at this time before and after the Revolution. Irving uses such great symbolism in this story to describe the changes that American society went through. This story covers a wide variety of time periods including: America before English rule, early American colonies under English rule, and America after the Revolutionary War.

One main issue of the story was one of identity, especially at this time in history. Rip was having difficulty finding himself throughout the story. His wife constantly nagged at him probably all in good reason. His farm was fading away. He was lazy and unproductive. He underwent many emotional changes throughout the story. He didn't appreciate what he had, and before he could even blink it was gone. Life is too short to not appreciate everything in it and enjoy it to the fullest.

In the first paragraph I chose to look at, it leads right into when Rip goes off for a walk to go squirrel shooting. Although the main reason for his walk was to get away for his nagging wife. The story could be interpreted in two different ways. One being that Rip was a lazy bum who did not take responsibility for his wife, children, and farm. He rather go out and drink and hang with his buddies at the tavern. I believe Irving specifically wrote this story for men. The story makes the wife sound like the wretched, nagging, old ugly woman and all she cares about is bothering her husband. This to me sounds all to familiar to what goes on still to this day. I believe the story makes Dame Van Winkle out to be the one in change of the power, but in reality I believe it was Rip.
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