Essay on Rip Van Winkle: A Revolutionary Piece in Fairy Tale Clothing

Essay on Rip Van Winkle: A Revolutionary Piece in Fairy Tale Clothing

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When read at first glance, Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" seems to be a tale of a lazy man who just wanted some peace and quiet, and ended up with almost too much of it. When analyzed at a deeper level however, "Rip Van Winkle" is more a symbolic story about the changes in the world going on at the time the story was written. Irving wrote "Rip Van Winkle" to show the world the struggle of the newly independent Americans trying to cope with life after English rule.

The character of Rip Van Winkle was one who was considered lazy and unproductive. He was "one of the happy mortals...who take the world easy, eat white bread or brown, which ever he can be got with least thought or trouble..." (Irving 983). Winkle was the kind of man who did the least amount of work possible to get the minimum that he required in life. He did not care to adventure outside of what he knew, nor did he care to work hard for something better in life. Winkle was, however, very willing to help others. Whenever his neighbors or fellow villagers needed help, Winkle would always give them a lending hand. Rip Van Winkle was in essence, a romantic and a dreamer. He wanted freedom from all that his life asked of him. He wanted to just do what he wanted, when he wanted, and not feel that he all of these obligations that he didn't really ask for. He just wanted some peace and quiet away from his mundane life and from the people around him.

It is here that we see Winkle representing the American Colonists before the revolution. Many of the people did not try and become anything great. They lived in their tiny villages, farmed, and just tried to get by. Although most were not happy, they did not try to do anything to change that. It was alm...


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...happy. The villagers in the story are now full of pride, of both themselves and where they live. They are no longer the lazy, mundane people Winkle had once known. The people are now interested in the world around them so much more than ever had been before. This is once against parallel to the Americans after the Revolution.

"Rip Van Winkle" is a story based on an old German Folklore. An American himself, Washington Irving wanted to write a story the American people could relate to, and they could feel prideful about. He used a somewhat humorous story setting, to really represent the political and social issues and struggles of that time. Rip Van Winkle represents the before and after newly freed Americans, while overbearing Dame represents England's control over the Colonies. This is a timeless story that to this day is still read and loved by Americans.

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