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Rip Van Winkle as Allegory - Research Paper Example

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Rip Van Winkle as Allegory

When he wakes up, he wanders back down to his village only to discover that everything has changed. His wife is dead, his children are grown up, his daughter has grown into a loving woman willing to take care of him and his lazy ways are now acceptable (Irving, 1819). He is also no longer the subject of a king but a free citizen of a new country basking in the glow of its newness. In Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” the wife represents the American man's sense that he is not free to do as he wishes, but is instead under the domineering cultural control of the American female. In Irving’s story, Rip’s wife is represented to be a constant problem for him in that she refuses to allow him to live his life in a manner that seems right to him. In the story, Irving says, “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, and everything he said or did was sure to produce a torrent of household eloquence” (11). ...
According to Nina Baym (1981), the typical American myth was structured around a very feminized natural environment waiting for the male to plunder and violate her while the human woman was the enforcer of social rules and norms, keeping men from accomplishing this goal. Baym says, "The myth narrates a confrontation of the American individual, the pure American self divorced from specific social circumstances, with the promise offered by the idea of America" (131). This myth sets up the fallacy that the individual can achieve unadulterated self-definition in America's great wilderness without the destructive or limiting power of society, which is represented in the figure of the human woman or, in this case, Dame Van Winkle. Since women were considered the embodiment of society's destructive influence, she couldn't be the quintessential American individual hero and was often established as the villain. In keeping with the true American myth formula, Rip takes off into the wilderness where he is able to celebrate his masculine prerogative to escape the confining influence of society and then returns 20 years later to live an entirely new life. The significance of Dame Van Winkle's death is that Rip is now free of his tormentor. He is liberated from the constraints of his former home life, his daughter welcomes him into her house giving him a new life, and he is able to find happiness in his popularity within the village. “He had got his neck out of the yoke of matrimony and could go in and out whenever he pleased without dreading the tyranny of Dame Van Winkle” (Irving, 61). Rip's liberation from Dame Van Winkle parallels the colonies' liberation from England and his life following his return becomes everything he always ...Show more


Instructor name Date Rip Van Winkle as Allegory In a lot of ways, Washington Irving’s short story “Rip Van Winkle” serves as an allegory demonstrating the woman as the new American villian. An allegory is defined as a “form of extended metaphor in which objects, persons and actions in a narrative are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself … Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal one and a symbolic meaning” (Tnellen, 2010)…
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Rip Van Winkle as Allegory essay example
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