Mythological Elements Of Rip Van Winkle

Decent Essays
Rip Van Winkle, a story written by Washington Irving in the early 1800s, demonstrates the emergence and development of American Mythology. Packed full of mythological elements, Irving’s tale depicts a man who encounters mysterious and fantastical characters in equally intriguing settings. Rip Van Winkle displays three major factors that contribute to mythology: mysterious, historical setting, remarkable and strange characters, and heroic, magical events and their consequences. Starting with setting, mythological stories often occur in historical time periods. Alongside remote and mysterious, the historical setting aids the believability of the story. When a work of fiction takes place in a time period that does not match the reader’s,…show more content…
The historical context urges the Irving’s great tale into the world of American mythology. Another example of the impact of mythological setting lies near the beginning of the plot arch. Rip goes up into the Kaatskill Mountains to hunt; a place that Irving depicts as remote in the following excerpt from the story: “Rip had unconsciously scrambled to one of the highest parts of the Kaatskill Mountains…and the still solitude had echoed.” The isolation that Rip had while in the mountains, where he would later sleep for twenty years, impacts the reader. It shows the reader the reason why nobody ever found him, as well as evoking a deeper emotion and concern for Rip as he slept out there all alone. Emotions find themselves imbedded in this mythology once again. Next, the characters enter the scene of mythology. In order for mythology to come across as supernatural, the characters must lend themselves to mystery. In Rip Van Winkle, not only do other intriguing characters appear, but Rip himself tends towards strange behaviors. After all, Rip did sleep for twenty years without waking. That in its self begins to reveal the underlying interest of the story. Perhaps the most strange and exaggerated characters would prove to be the bowler in the forest. In the text it says, “He was still more surprised at the singularity of the stranger’s appearance.” It goes on to
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