Washington Irving’s short story, “Rip Van Winkle”

Washington Irving’s short story, “Rip Van Winkle”, tells the tale of a man unlike any other in his community. Rip Van Winkle’s village praised him for his voluntary efforts yet henpecked by his tempered wife, Dame Van Winkle. During the time of Rip Van Winkle’s life, he resided in America under King George III’s rule. Rip wakes up from a twenty year nap to find out that not only was his misery-inducing wife dead but his country was free from Great Britain. Author, Washington Irvin compares Dame Van Winkle’s dictator persona to King George III and how their dominance rises and falls within the short story.

In addition, Irving displays Rip’s individual priorities by living life unshackled by society’s “standards” and doing what was in his best interest. Together these examples have pinpointed key analysis from Washington Irving’s short story. King George III meticulously informed the people of his country that they must obey his orders without questioning his system. This brought an upheaval to the citizen’s of England who already sailed to the Americas to gain independence from the King.

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The King structured the society of his people to take orders and live accordingly to British norms. Within this story, Rip’s wife’s personality and disposition resembles King George III and Great Britain’s model of sovereignty. Just like King George was poorly gossiped about, villagers as well, blamed Dame for the Van Winkle’s family squabbles. The short story states “Rip was a great favourite among all the good wives of the village, who, as usual with the amiable sex, took his part in all family altercations, laying all blame on Dame Van Winkle” (Irving, p. 31).

It gives the impression that Dame Van Winkle has taken on King George’s public face as her dictating ways backfired within the village. Dame Van Winkle is only present during the time of Great Britain’s reign and when Rip wakes up from his twenty-year nap to find that he is a free citizen of America, Dame in addition is deceased. Mr. Van Winkle never had to worry about being lectured again. “Rip had but one way of replying to all lectures of the kind, and that, by frequent use, had grown into a habit. He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, cast up his eyes, but said nothing”. Irving, p. 32). Rip grew accustomed to his wife’s behavior, as did the colonies of England to the King. His wife’s temper never relaxed as she aged and became progressively uptight. It was as if Rip could not get away from his wife because she would find him whenever he idled himself outside the household. The way Rip got away was by napping through twenty years of inevitable torment, rage, and order. To Rip, it felt as if a night’s rest took all his problems away even though the villagers fought for their freedom. However, in the end, they be rid of King George III.

Washington Irving meshed Dame Van Winkle and King George III’s persona to exemplify a similarity of exhilaration perceived from the villager’s independence from Great Britain and Rip’s freedom of his henpecked life. King George III was no longer a threat to the people of Rip’s village. They were relieved from their moral duties and responsibility as people of Great Britain. Rip no longer had to listen to his harassing wife sunrise, daylight, and sunset. Now he could resume living a blithe lifestyle in silent. The freedom of both Rip and the villagers symbolizes liberation from all tyrant figures and the fall of a dictatorship.

Mr. Van Winkle was a first-class Samaritan. He was a superb neighbor, obedient husband and widely popular within his village. He shared stories with the children, informed messages accompanied with life lessons and participated in recreational activities. He aided the women in need of assistance and never refused to help a neighbor. He would be a great addition to any community yet was criticized by his wife because he never took care of his family. Rip was primed to partake in anyone’s chores but his own. He felt there was no purpose to work on his property.

He had no incentive to work for himself or become a rich man. “Rip Van Winkle, was one of those happy mortals, of foolish well oiled dispositions, who take the world easy, eat white bread or brown, which ever can be got with least thought or trouble, and would rather starve on a penny than work for a pound” (Irving, p. 32). Van Winkle was content with his lifestyle. He did not find an incentive to work for money because to him, it did not cradle intrinsic value. Rip’s purpose in life was to do what he wanted to do because it made him happy.

To him, happiness did not come by the standards society sought. Whether that was rich crops, healthy cattle, money or a stable family, happiness came through living life at ease and carefree impulse. “He would sit on a wet rock, with a rod as long and heavy as a Tartar’s lance, and fish all day without a murmur, even though he should not be encouraged by a single nibble”(Irving, pg. 31). Near the end of the short story, Rip Van Winkle finds out he is a free citizen of the United States. He had no interest in the change of powers but cherished the fact that he was no longer in an nbalanced marriage that prevented him from liberating himself from all order. Delightfully, Now, Mr. Van Winkle did not have to fret leaving the house or be troubled with responsibilities. It was as if this twenty-year sleep brought forth a new world without restrictions. At this point, he was old enough where no one could bother him for his idle ways and his freedom admitted him to the lifestyle he had envisioned. No longer was there a “standard” to live by, to be compared to or be responsible for. His children had grown up, started their own families and did not rely on their father’s assistance.

King George III and Dame no longer had control. Rip Van Winkle, a man with no strings attached. Throughout Washington Irving’s, “Rip Van Winkle”, he addressed two significant analyses. He linked King George III and Dame Van Winkle’s dictator personas to be similar to the way they govern their subjects. King George III authorized the English colonies of America to live by his rule and engage in his standards of living. Furthermore, Dame Van Winkle converted Rip Van Winkle into a henpecked husband. They both gave orders and were overthrown throughout a given time period.

It was before Rip’s twenty-year slumber that these rulers had dominated their subjects. However, once Rip awoken from his slumber, freedom was within Rip and his fellow neighbors. Lastly, Irving enlightened his readers to Rip Van Winkle’s premise of life. He specified that Rip lived life the way he chose and not by the way other’s directed him to. He did not let society dictate his decisions and was highly regarded as a Good Samaritan, bringing forth moral value to his community. Overall, life was not to be decided and governed by others but patented by an individual’s belief.

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