There is an old adage that says, “freedom doesn’t come easy.” Webster’s Dictionary defines freedom as “The state of being free rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.” For centuries, people have struggled and fought to have freedom. In some situations, a great price as paid to have freedom. An example is the American Revolutionary War, for which the United States obtained its freedom from Great Britain. In other situations, freedom could be obtained by simply escaping everyday life and resting under a shade tree, as in the classic American story of Rip Van Winkle. Although the two examples are entirely different, they both have a lot in common because of the need for freedom.
The Emancipation of America from Great Britain
As for the United States, tensions had been building for several years between Great Britain and the thirteen American colonies. There was a great disagreement over the way Great Britain had been treating the colonists and the way the colonists felt they should be treated. The British Empire had passed several laws in an effort to increase control over the colonies. The Acts of 1763, The Navigation Act, The Townshend Act, The Tea Act, and The Intolerable Acts were just a few issues the British attempted to bestow on the colonists to increase taxes for themselves. The Americans opposed the new laws because they had no representation in Parliament, which led to the slogan “No taxation representation.” Many of the American founding fathers met regularly and through religious study, men like Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, taught that... “…all men are created equal, and there is no divine right of kings, and wicked laws should be disobeyed.”
Eventually, the American Revolutionary War broke out in 1775 and ended in 1783. As a result of the war, the colonists won their freedom.
The Emancipation of Rip Van Winkle
The tale of Rip Van Winkle begins in a way similar to that of the American Revolutionary War. For many years, Rip Van Winkle was under stress because of the brow beatings he received from his overbearing wife. Although he was a kind man, Rip Van Winkle was verbally abused by his wife and she frequently accused him of bringing the family to ruin. Mrs. Van Winkle was so overbearing, that she even treated the family dog the way she treated her husband. Rip Van Winkle was always ready to assist his neighbors with hard work, but avoided taking care of his own property. As his marriage to her endured, his life became more miserable. In an effort to escape the situation he was in, Rip would visit with prominent people from the village he lived in. They would discuss newspaper articles, tell stories, and exchange gossip. One day, in an effort to escape his miserable situation, Rip Van Winkle wandered off with his dog to the mountains and decided to take a nap. When he woke up he discovered his dog was missing and his gun was rusted. Little did he know his nap lasted twenty years! He returned to the village and realized he no longer recognized anyone and he was accused of being a spy. Eventually Rip Van Winkle was introduced to a young lady with a child named Rip. She explained that her father wandered away and was never heard from again. The young lady further explained that her mother died from a broken blood vessel from shouting at a peddler. When Rip Van Winkle heard this, he realized he was talking to his daughter. He identified himself and was allowed to return home with his daughter and live in peace and happiness.
The American Revolutionary War was an important part of American History and the story of Rip Van Winkle was an important part of American Literature. In both examples, tension was built up over a period of time before a resolution occurred. The American Colonies suffered under the tyranny of Great Britain. Likewise, Rip Van Winkle suffered under his wife, who was a tyrant. Although freedom did not come easy in either situation, in the end, the American Colonists and Rip Van Winkle enjoyed happiness and freedom