They say “don’t judge a book by its cover.” This is implying that there is more to something than meets the eye. This is the same case with Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle.” You have to read between the lines of the short story to understand the passion and meaning that Irving has so, intelligently, woven into his story.
In the beginning of the story Irving talks of how Dame Van Winkle would basically nag her husband to death. He never worked hard enough, and could not achieve greatness in her eyes. I believe that Dame Van Winkle, in this case, is symbolizing Royal England and the way it treated the colonies. You get a sense that Rip has somewhat lost his identity or sense to really care. This can be compared to the troubles the colonies were going through before the war. Rip Van Winkle is believed to be symbolism for America during this time. Even though he seemed to be at least content, Irving makes the statement that “he would rather starve on a penny than work for a dime (Washington 631-643).” When compared to America during the period before the Revolutionary war, you can see some correlation in their way of living and desire (or lack thereof) to overcome obstacles. I love Irving’s idea to turn the story into such a learning experience while still being very entertaining.
While Rip Van Winkle found for a while that drinking could help him escape, what I think, to be the nauseating voice of his wife, it seemed to be short lived. He felt that the only way he could truly escape was to “take gun in hand, and stroll away into the woods (Washington 631-643).” However, one day he wandered too far and came across a stranger on his way home and followed him to his whereabouts to have a drink. Upon reaching their destination Rip Van Winkle was tempted by one drink after another. He eventually drank himself into a very deep sleep, which symbolizes the starting of the Revolutionary War.