Rip Van Winkle

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The characters in Rip Van Winkle and Young Goodman Brown written respectively by Washington Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne leave their individual communities and return with radically different perspectives (of their current lives) that change their attitudes and way of life in the remaining of their lives. Both stories are set in early American villages, Young Goodman Brown takes place in the 1700’s New England puritan settlement while Rip Van Winkle takes place over 100 years later in an English colony in eastern New York. Both authors were very clever to use different historical context to illustrate cultural aspects of early American societies in order to make the reader aware of how big of a role gender, politics and religion where to the societies. Strange/Supernatural forces challenge and would radically change both characters when they depart from their individual village and head into the forest/mountains and on their perspective, individual journeys. The external scenery that both of the authors provide, has both liberal and figurative meanings that simulate Rip Van Winkle’s and Young Goodman Brown’s experiences. Both characters go into dream-like states and are forced to face problems that would eventually expose their true identities. This shorts stories conclude with transformations in the two characters internal perspectives and external perceptions towards their respective communities and time periods. Young Goodman Brown and Rip Van Winkle illustrate their early American life in a puritan village and New English colony. Overall, one of the most important details in the stories are the relationships these characters have with their wives. In the beginning of Young Goodman Brown, Brown adores his newly wed wife named Faith who he ironically refers to as a blessed angel on Earth. Through out his journey Brown puts his wife in a pedestal of purity despite learning the truth about his brother. Brown’s attitudes starts to change toward Faith during a


References: to native Americans demonstrate the mentality of early American towards civilizations that lived here long before their colonization. In Rip Van Winkle, Irving provides examples of the change of attitudes of colonist before and after the revolutionary war. When Rip wakes up from his 20 year nap he is confronted by the villagers and they ask him what is his “role”, he makes the mistake of saying he is loyal to England and therefore, he is accused of being a spy . Their accusations illustrate the beginning of individual freedom that they now had after winning their Revolution. Hawthorne uses Goodman Brown to proof that the puritans in the village were not really pure. He demonstrates how the puritans would violently pursue people who had other belief systems. For instance, the devil tells Goodman how his past relatives had lashed Quaker women and set fire to an Indian village. To further demonstrate this Brown was giving the ability to witness first hand every sin that his puritan brothers had committed. By the end of both stories the inner self of the characters had undergone a major transformation. The previous role that they had in their earlier communities and lives had also transformed. Brown was aware of the sins of his neighbor, therefore his beliefs about his community had radically changed . His relationship with his wife is no longer a union of love but more of an obligation that he had. The things that the devil had shown Brown had impend him from moving on. After living his life as a cynical person, he dies. Au contraire Rip had become a living legend in his community, somewhat of a war hero, he would always retell his story to other town’s folks in the cavern . He is now free of his wife, who had always been an intrusion in his life. Despite feeling belligerent at the villagers new political stance Rip was now glad he was happy, a free man. Rip’s attitude remains the same but 20 years later he is old enough that a man his age can be taken lightly. Rip’s new perception has change the image of himself, he is now a free husband/hero in the village instead of a lazy husband. As for Brown, the perception he gained, made him more of an open minded person to the sins of the villagers in his community. After his journey through the forest is over he has to live with the burden of the knowledge that not all puritans where pure.

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