A View on the Rip Van Winkle Emphasis on the Escapism
How it works
Rip Van Winkle emphasizes nature, times past, power of the imagination, enchantment, and values individual feelings and intuition over reason to focus on the idea of Romanticism, which is the time period the story was published. American Romanticism can best be described as a journey away from the corruption of civilization and the limits of rational thought and toward the integrity of nature and the freedom of the imagination. Written by Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle is a story about escape from civilization and responsibility.
Rip lives at the foot of New York’s “Kaatskill Mountains and is well-loved by the townspeople, especially the children. However, he tends to avoid all the handful of daily labor required of him from his constantly nagging wife, Dame Van Winkle, and often resorts to the wilderness as his outlet away from all the work and stress.American Romanticism champions individual freedom through nature.
How it works
One day, while wandering up the mountains, he encounters a man dressed in old-fashioned Dutch clothing. The two venture up to this amphitheater in which he finds a group of men, who is dressed in a similarly outlandish fashion to the man he first bumped into, playing 9-pins. Later on, he learns that the men he met are the ghosts of Henry Hudson’s crew. One of American Romanticism’s features is to find inspiration in myth, legend, and folk culture. Irving based Rip Van Winkle on this famous American folklore.
Every twenty years, the spirits of Henry Hudson and his crew returned to the Catskill Mountains to play nine-pins with the gnomes, and to look out over the country they had first explored together on the Half Moon.Anyone who drinks the magic liquor will remain in slumber from the day they depart to the day they, once again, return which is twenty years later. Rip was asleep for twenty years. This demonstrates another Romanticism quality- stressing on the supernatural realm and the inner world of the imagination.
When he awakes, Rip returns back to his village and don’t recognize anyone. He also finds his house empty and comes across another man named Rip Van Winkle. He quickly gets in trouble when he claims himself as a loyalist to King George III. He learns that war (the American Revolution) had taken place. They were no longer a colony; instead they were a brooding new country, the United States, under the governance of General George Washington. His friends had either died in war or gone elsewhere. The other Rip Van Winkle is his son, who is now grown. Irving uses another element of Romanticism – looks backward to the wisdom of the past and distrusts progress. Many wished they had the luxury to sleep through the hardships of the war. Rips awakening is also seen as significant to the awakening of the new American nation. Rips emancipation from his wife is like America’s emancipation from Great Britain.
Washington Irving used various characteristics of the American Romanticism to write Rip Van Winkle. To the Romantic, imagination, powerful emotion, wild nature, and exploration were of greater value than planning, reason, and logic. Irving used misty mountaintops, mysterious forest, old-fashioned village, distant era, magic and enchantment to achieve all the elements of Romanticism.