Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 4 | Words: 1120
Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Rip Van Winkle is one of the most popular Americas short stories, derived from German folk stories. It’s a very captivating story that has been very competitive internationally. The author of the book is Washington Irving. He came up when the British writers were the most popular in America and brought a change by proving that even America had some creative writers who could even outdo the British authors. Washington had changed his career from law to writing and he ended up becoming the first writer in America to gain international recognition. His creative writing which involves a lot of humor and clear descriptions continues to take the fancy of many.

The setting of the story covers twenty years starting five years before the American great Revolution. It’s in one of the villages in eastern New York around the Hudson River near Catskill Mountain. At Catskill mountain there is a picturesque that was established by Dutch colonists. Closer to it were gabled houses and one could see smoke going up from the chimneys and sunlight reflection from the shingle roofs (Laertius, 75-89).

New York was still an English colony and Rip Van Winkle lived in this village in a simple house that was a mere shelter. Being gentle and kind he became very popular with his neighbors. He interacted with children by making them toys, playing with them and telling them stories. This made the children love him very much and they always wanted to be around him. All people took him as a gentleman who was beyond reproach and no one wanted to offend him. His wife however took his meekness as a weakness and could give him no peace. This attracted sympathy from other people’s wives.

Even if Rip had a very good reputation and he was very persevering such that he could afford to sit on rock fishing with a very long and heavy rod for a whole day without grumbling even if he did not catch anything, he had one weakness and that was that he could not work for a profit. He was a very hardworking man while helping neighbours and could even do some odd housewives jobs. One may think that he behaved in the same way in his work. However, this is not the case; Rip appears to be very careless and lazy when it comes to taking care of his properties. He is not taking care of his cows, fences are collapsing and the rain is falling when his farm is unattended. Weeds were the only plants that survived well in his farm. Dame Van Winkle beat the little Rip who takes after his father regularly because of his endless failures. He felt that his failures will bring the whole family down. Little Rip never took this kindly. He was always angry because of the beating and scolding. He would seek refuge from villagers who met at an inn to tell stories or discuss some events in a newspaper left by a traveller. Old Nicholas Vedder who was the owner of the inn controlled the thoughts and the discussion of the villagers there. Though in the group he just seemed to be smoking and kept shifting his sitting position on the bench hunting for the shade of a nearby tree he was very influential on what was to be discussed and the direction that the discussion was to take (Burstein, 145-78).

To escape his wife and the challenge of his farm Rip Van Wankle would go into the Catskill mountain forest to hunt with wolf and his gun. One day he went into Catskill mountain hunting squirrels, after sometime of shooting and shooting he got tired and decided to rest. He lied down staring at the beautiful forest and Hudson River. It was evening when he got up to go back home. He sighed when he remembered Dame Van Winkle’s hash and offensive tongue (Jones, 135-78).

It was at that time that something caught their attention, somebody was coming calling Rip. The man was short, had bushy hair and wore old fashioned Dutch cloths. The man carried a keg which Rip thought could be liquor. He asked Rip to help and as usual Rip couldn’t fail to help. They went down the mountain and after walking for sometime Rip heard some thundering sounds from a ravine. They then met a hollow bordered by cliffs and hanging trees which looked like amphitheatre. There they met other men who looked like Rips companion in all ways. The men were not talking or smiling. They were playing ninepins and as they rolled their balls sounds could be heard like thunders. The men then gazed at Rip making him nervous. After he had emptied the liquor into flagons, his companion asked him to serve the players and he did so. When the players went back to their game Rip felt ease and decided to taste the liquor. He found that the brew was excellent. This made him drink excess fully and he went into deep sleep. When he was waking up it was already sunny in the morning. He tried to revisit the events of the previous night in his mind and he couldn’t understand it. It was hard to imagine how his wife would react when he got home. He realised he didn’t have his gun and Wolf was also not there and so he decided to go down to where they had met the players to look them. However, the path that he had followed with the strange man was now a stream and the place where they had entered a ravine was a rock. He decided to go back to the village (Wyeth, 124-56)

In the village he got shocked when he realised that people were very strange and he could not recognise them. To his surprise, he also realized that he had beards one foot long. The village was larger and had more people than he had left. The house looked strange with strange writings on its doors. He went to his house and realised it was in ruins with broken windows and collapsed roof. Then he decided to visit the inn and realized it wasn’t there. Instead of the inn a hotel was there and there were people there outside but he couldn’t recognise them. The people in the village seem to take very long before recognizing Rip Van Winkle. He seems to have been away for very long. He also can’t recognize any person. Fortunately after trying to make them remember him a few of them remembers him and he is able to start interacting with them. Even so many things seem to have changed when he was away and America is no longer in colony.

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