Rip Van Winkle: A Portrait of the American People Before and After the Revolution

Rip Van Winkle: A Portrait of the American People Before and After the Revolution

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After the American Revolution there were many of the American people who were lost as to whom they were now. There were two definite groups that had been created, those that were for the revolution and those that were against. At the same time, there were some that had just ridden along for the ride. When the revolution came to an end, there were people who were stuck in the middle confused as to who they were and what being an American specifically meant. Washington Irving shows this fear in his short story called “Rip Van Winkle”. In this short story, he brings to life the common fear and confusion that was among the people. Few were sure of who they were and who was considered their friends or their enemies. I want to show how George Irving used the fictitious character of Rip Van Winkle to show the different characteristics of the American people before and after the American Revolution.
Washington Irving first places Rip Van Winkle into a similar situation that American’s had just been facing. American’s were suffering brutal and terrible control from the United Kingdom. They wanted to escape the control and thus they broke away. Like the American’s, Rip Van Winkle was under suppressive control by Dame Van Winkle. Irving describes her by saying, “A termagant wife may, therefore, in some respects, be considered a tolerable blessing; and if so, Rip Van Winkle was thrice blessed” (Baym 955). All he sought to do was break away from her. This is when he decided to leave his town to go hunting so he could get a break from the retched women. Rip shows the commonalities in both parties departing away from something that was so familiar and comfortable to them. In Sarah Wyman’s article she discuss this event that Rip goes through...

... middle of paper ...

...lear precise view of how we began as a people and what we turned into. We are able to look more at the American people through the Rip Van Winkle character and understand more completely what the people of that time were going through.

Works Cited

1. Allen, Thomas B. “One Revolution Two Wars.” Military History. 27.5 (2011): 58-63. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 26. Oct. 2011.
2. Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. B. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007. 954-965. Print.
3. Beidler, Philip. “America’s Fairy Tale.” Fairy Tale Review. (2008): 19-30. Print.
4. Ferguson, Robert, A. “Rip Van Winkle and the Generational Divide in the American Culture.” Early American Literature. 40.3. (2005): 529-544. Print.
5. Wyman, Sarah. “Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle: A Dangerous Critique of a New Nation.” ANQ. 23.4 (2010): 216-222. Print.

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