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The True Meaning of Rip Van Winkle

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The True Meaning of Rip Van Winkle
In order for a prosperous future to occur, the present must be secure and the past must not be forgotten. Much can be said though, about the advance of mankind throughout the ages, with complete disregard to the woes and struggles of the past. Furthermore, while it would appear that the brawls of the present are almost always shaped to lend perception of a greater future, history dictates that this is not always true. In this vein, the story of America is not that much different than other epics from our past. From great reason, our ancestors sought significant change. Change brought about revolution both in the literal and intrinsic sense, and soon broader horizons quickly unfolded into an unprecedented amalgamation of opinion, social action and success. Throughout this time however, America has not been absent its critics, nor has it been isolated from internal critique either. One such example of this internal American critique can be found in Washington Irving’s, “Rip Van Winkle.” Therefore, the purpose of this brief work is to discuss the theme of Irving’s timeless masterpiece and offer critical insight as to its deeper meanings.
The tale of Rip Van Winkle is set in the whimsical wilderness of the Catskill Mountains in pre-revolutionary America. As the story portrays, Rip is a simple man caught between his own ferocious hedonistic motivations, and the insurmountable demands of his condescending and oppressive wife (Perkins). Stating, “His wife kept continually dinning in his ears about his idleness, his carelessness, and the ruin he was bringing on his family. Morning, noon, and night, her tongue was incessantly going...” (Perkins, 199), Irving provides the reader with an archetype antagonist in Rip’s wife Dame. Indeed, it is here that Rip’s primary motivation is developed. As the story goes on, “Times grew worse...

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