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Rip Van Winkle Essay

2570 words - 10 pages

"The outline for each story, although based on native history, can be found in legend and myth." Robert M. Meyers, a famous critic, said this about Washington Irving's amazing talent in writing short stories in literature. "Rip Van Winkle" is one of Washington's most famous short stories. Washington does a fantastic job in the story using the themes of martial conflict and American Revolution. Throughout the story, both seem very noticeable. "Rip Van Winkle" covers many literary elements, all of which are very noticeable to the reader. He makes them easier to point out so that the reader can have a better understanding of all the themes he covers in the story.
The characters of this story are believable and they are appropriate for the theme of the story. Dame Van Winkle is a character that is not liked throughout the story, whereas, Rip is a character that is liked by all. Therefore, it is evident that the protagonist of the short story is in fact, Rip Van Winkle. Rip shows he is a flat character during the story. "I have observed that he was a simple goodnatured man..." (Irving 155). This proves to the reader that Rip is always nice to everyone in the small village that he lives in. "Rip now resumed his old walks and habits..." (Irving 165). This says that even after being asleep for twenty years he can still come back and resume his life and be even happier than he was before. These quotes prove that Rip Van Winkle stays the same even after sleeping through the American Revolution. He continues to have a positive attitude even though his surroundings have changed. Apart from being a flat character, Rip Van Winkle is also a dynamic character. "Times grew worse and worse with Rip Van Winkle as years of matrimony rolled on; a tart temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use" (Irving 157). As time passes, Rip Van Winkle slowly becomes more and more unhappy of his marriage with Dame Van Winkle. "...preferred making friends among the rising generation, with whom he soon grew into great favor. Having nothing to do at home, and being arrived at that happy age when a man can be idle, with impunity..." (Irving 165). After Rip Van Winkle finds out his wife has passed away, he becomes happier with his life. Rip Van Winkle's wife, being a dame, made Rip want to be away from his home more and more every day. The goal of Rip van Winkle in the beginning is to stay away from his wife and to try to please her and not make her angry. Towards the end he is trying to find his wife since he has been away from her for so long. Little did he know that he would no longer have to stay away from his wife.
The antagonist of the story is Dame Van Winkle. Dame is a flat character. She only shows one side of herself through the whole story. "Certain it is that he was a great favorite among all the good wives of the village, who as usual with the amiable sex, took part in all family squabbles,...

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