Rip Van Winkle: an Allegory of the American Revolution

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Rip Van Winkle: an Allegory of the American Revolution

By | June 2013
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Rip Van Winkle: An Allegory of the American Revolution
CAO YU
Rip Van Winkle is a short story by American author Washington Irving published in 1819, as well as the name of the story’s fictonal protagonist. The story is set in the years before and after the American Revolution War. It mainly tells that the man named Rip Van Winkle who attempted to escape from his wife’s ceaseless tongue drank some wine and then fell asleep for almost 20 years. After that, he went back to the town only to find that everything has changed. There are many kinds of sayings about the deep meaning of the story. In my opinion, this story is an allegory of the American Revolution. An Allegory is a narrative having a second meaning beneath the surface – a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning. It is also an expressive style that uses fictional characters and events to describe some subject by suggestive resemblances. In the story, I think the author expresses his conservative and negative thoughts about the American Revolution. Through the story, the author satirizes the consequences of the American Revolution War and also expresses his bewilderment of great changes after the war. Following are three aspects that can explain why. First, Rip Van Winkle’s reaction to the great changes after the War. When Rip woke up and went back to the town which he used to live in, he felt puzzled and despairing facing the sudden changes of his home and friends. His house was ruined, the vallage inn turned into a large wooden building, he knew none of the people, and even the dogs barked at him – All these changes made Rip feel sad and worried and even caused doubt about his identity. After Rip settled down, he “went back to his old ways” and soon became an admirable person in the town. The changes of states made little impression on him and the only thing he could understood is just “independence from a sharp-tongued wife”. I think Rip’s reaction to the changes stands for...
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