“Rip Van Winkle” is a symbolic story, its author, Washington Irving, used a fictional and unrealistic event to be able to portray the difference between the same places of America before and during the Revolutionary War.
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The story of a mysterious situation when a character skips a long period without being aware of it and then comes back to the familiar places shocked by the changes that happened over time is quite a common device that has been used by various writers since ancient times. This device is perfect for showing the contrast between the same places before and after certain events. The radical changes that happen to areas and people are the most noticeable when they are depicted through the perspective of a person who got lost in time and for whom these changes did not happen slowly and gradually. Rip Van Winkle had a sip from his flagon and after that, he slept for twenty years. He missed all the hardships his fellow villagers had to go through. Rip’s father, Dame Van Winkle was a merry man, who loved children and taught them many things and games. The figure of Dame is a symbol of England, while Rip represents America. These two men are the before and after of the village they lived in. When Rip comes back to his village the first thing he notices is that the merriness is gone from the people’s faces. Even though they live normal lives, the villagers are exhausted and sad. The dwellers of Rip’s village wish that they could have taken a sip from the mysterious flagon and sleep through all the hard times just like Rip Van Winkle did (Irving 2014).
Irving, W. (2014). Rip Van Winkle and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Web.