Rip Van Winkle
I believe Washington Irving’s purpose for writing ‘Rip Van Winkle’ was to teach a lesson and to comment on the American Revolution at the same time. I think that the lesson Irving is trying to teach is that if you live an idle life, life will pass you by. Rip was not concerned with working to support his family or to achieve any sort of goals. He was only interested in doing things that he enjoyed and that did not help to support his family. He slept for twenty years, and when he awoke the world around him was completely different. When Rip was out in the woods hunting, he got sidetracked and went off with a strange man. This lead to him drinking too much and falling asleep for twenty years. While Rip slept, the world went on and changed very drastically. His wife died, his children grew up, and America won its independence from the British. These things did not seem to bother Rip, but many people would regret missing out on so much. Irving uses symbolism throughout this story. He uses Rip to represent America and Madame Van Winkle to represent England. Rip’s disdain for his wife represents the way the colonists felt about England. When Rip wakes up from his twenty year nap he sees an eagle, which is supposed to represent the new American freedom. Rip goes back to his village and sees that it has changed quite a bit, many of the men he once knew died fighting in the war. He finds that his wife is also dead, which grants him the freedom to do as he pleases for the first time in many years. The setting of the story is also important. The fact that the story takes place in and around the Kaatskill Mountains makes sure the reader knows that it is in America. The Kaatskill Mountain setting also offers a location that was somewhat exotic, allowing Rip to encounter the strange men with whom he drank. He was able to explore areas of the mountains where not many had been before and sleep there for twenty years without being disturbed. The story that ‘Rip...
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