Romantic Elements In Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle

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Rip Van Winkle, a short story by Washington Irving, displays elements of the American Romanticism, as the author depicts the natural landscape associated with fantasy. The supernatural is a very prevalent theme in Romantic literature, and so is the love for the natural landscape, in opposition to the modern life in the city. These elements help isolate Rip Van Winkle from society, in a way that when he returns from his fantastic 20-year sleep, he becomes “the local storyteller, demonstrating the importance of the past and of contact with the mythic for community life” (PEARCE, 1993, p. 115). Besides these two elements – nature and supernatural – Irving’s short story also highlights other romantic aspects such as a distrust of civilization, a nostalgia for the past and a concern for individual freedom. …show more content…
Rip, who is a Dutch villager, enjoys to spend time by himself in the wilderness or to hang out with friends. He is not much keen on working, to his wife’s dismay. One day, to escape from his wife’s nag, Rip decides to wander into the mountains accompanied by his dog only. He meets some strange characters and falls asleep after drinking a lot. Appalling changes take place when he wakes up: his beard is a foot long, his dog is gone, and he does not recognize anyone when he comes back to the village. According to Pearce (1993), Irving uses Rip Van Winkle to criticize the post-revolution American society: “since Rip slept through the transition from British colony to independence, he is able to comment on the new social order from the perspective of the old” (PEARCE, 1993, p.

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