Reflection of American History in Rip Van Winkle

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Washington Irving expertly reflects American history in his piece of 1819 “Rip Van Winkle.” Unbeknownst to Rip Van Winkle, the colonies are now free of British rule as Irving writes, “Here a general shout burst from the bystanders—‘A Tory! a Tory! a spy! A refugee! hustle him! Away with him’” (Matthews, 2007, para. 36). Rip enters the village armed, ignorant of the fact that he presents the look of a loyalist. The question of being a refugee prevails over accusations of being a Tory, as a colonist refugee would not claim British loyalty which Rip did openly saying “’…And a loyal subject of the king, God bless him’” (Matthews, 2007, para. 35). If Rip had not been justified by one who once knew him, there could have been an inescapable assault. Rip stands exonerated from the accusation of being a spy and questions changes in the village he once knew so well. Irving says, “He recognized on the sign, however, the ruby face of King George…even this was singularly metamorphosed…and underneath was painted in large characters, GENERAL WASHINGTON” (Matthews, 2007, para. 33). Rip becomes confused as he notes the changes in the sign where George Washington replaces King George III. The sign symbolizes and validates the colonists’ freedom from Britain where a monarchy replaces democracy. With the conclusion of the Revolutionary War comes the replacement of King George III’s rule with the presidency of George Washington. As the war comes to a victorious close with freedom to the American colonists Irving writes, “’Oh, she too died but a short time since…’ There was a drop of comfort, at least, in this intelligence” (Matthews, 2007, para. 54). Simply stated, Rip’s wife passed away, thereby gaining him his freedom. This parallels his...

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