Rip's Character and Symbolism in Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle

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Rip's Character and Symbolism in Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle

"Rip Van Winkle" has been a well-known story told throughout time. There is not a doubt that as a child, many of you heard the words of Washington Irving's famous tale of the man who slept for twenty years. Nor can one forget the "elves" that Rip Van Winkle spent the night with in the amphitheater. Like many stories, Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" has been told so many times throughout American history that it has lost its original purpose. The story is now remembered for its fairy tale like quality and its appeal to the children and the young at heart. However, when given the chance to delve into the depths of what Irving was trying to portray, one may see the
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Dame Van Winkle was Irving's representation of the country of Great Britain. Her heavy hand represented the power that the British tried to displace onto the American colonies while over sea. The discipline handed out by Dame Van Winkle onto her husband may seem to the onlooker to have made him more carefree to look upon life as something to be lived. The oppression he experienced while at home enables him to go out with a different outlook on life, as it did with the colonist. Irving terms this thirst and knowledge of freedom by saying "to the latter circumstance might be owing that meekness of spirit which gained him such universal popularity; for those men are most apt to be obsequious and conciliating abroad, who are under the disciplines of shrews at home. Their tempers, doubtless, are rendered pliant and malleable in the fiery furnace of domestic tribulation; and a curtain lecture is worth all the sermons in the world for teaching virtues of patience and long-suffering." In other words, Dame Van Winkle was the oppressive hand that laid the foundation for Rip Van Winkle to experience the pleasures of life once out of the house, as did the people of the colonies once they escaped the rule of the crown.

Rip Van Winkle knew how to make the most out of his freedom and this aura about him led other people to follow
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