An Analysis of Washington Irving’s
Rip Van Winkle
This story is a well loved American Short Story by Washington Irving, based on a German folktale and published in the collection The Sketch Book. I agree that much of the humor in the story is derived from the stereotypes about male…
This story is a well loved American Short Story by Washington Irving, based on a German folktale and published in the collection The Sketch Book. I agree that much of the humor in the story is derived from the stereotypes about male and female relationships.
Surprisingly, there are these stereotypes that persist even until today. Arguably enough much has changed with regards to women’s roles in the home, as well as in their respective careers in our modern world. However, it is still an enduring stereotype that women, or wives for that matter are over-bearing, and most often than not, nagging and demanding when it comes to the ‘obligations’ that the husband, or the father, being the head of the family, is supposed to perform. This stereotype is still portrayed in local media, by way of television series where women or wives are portrayed as nagging, overbearing and to a point, henpecking their husbands. The stereotype of the man still remains, as the one who’d do ‘manly’ works, such as the repairing of fences, carpentry, masonry, plumbing, and even farm work. Even if such male dominated ‘work’ or ‘professions’ are now easily accessible and open for the opposite sex, there is not much significant change in this, as men are still supposed to be in control or have the ‘higher right’ to engage in such masculine professions or field of work. It is also and enduring stereotype that a son is his father’s own, as shown in the story of how Rip’s son took after him and his ways. There is also the stereotype of how men, in the opinion of women, are wasting time with useless frivolities such as sitting down for fishing, which translate into today’s modern world, where women detest how their men would sit and be glued in front of their television set to watch their favorite game, with a bottle in hand, and no intention whatsoever to do the household chores. If Rip Van Winkle was to wake up today, he would most definitely be surprised with the technological advancements in today’s modern world. He would marvel at how a cellular phone works. Gone would be the days spent on the bench in front of the inn could now easily be done via SMS or text messaging, conference calling, or even a group or conference chat over the web or via live streaming on the internet.
He would be in awe with the huge buildings and sky scrapers that would most likely be proximate, if not dominate his ‘quiet little village’ in New York. He would be amazed with the huge towers of steel that he would find when he wakes up in modern day New York. He would also be surprised at the many legal actions he could now file and avail of against his wife, his sons and daughters, or even his neighbors. Surely, there would not be a repeat of his ‘sleeping’ episode, as there would be gadget with tracking devices to nab him if he would not be able to come home for a night. There are, after all, global positioning devices, to make sure of that. Rip Van Winkle will not only be surprised to find that Monarchy is now replaced by a democratic form of government. Instead of a King that he would swear allegiance, profess loyalty and owe service and obeisance to, he now has a President. Not just a president, so to speak, but a non-white President, and a source of pride and respect at that. Rip Van Winkle would not need testimonial evidence of an old man in his village to back up his claim anymore. He could easily try to search microfilms kept in libraries for reference purposes, as well as a back up for his story. In fact the he can even search the internet for veracity of his identity, or by simply ‘googling’ his name. Instead of telling his story to passing strangers, he may very well conduct a ‘lecture tour’ of this, or if he is as lazy as
to budge from his house, he can sell the rights to a company, to be made into a film or book and ‘sleep’ his way to the bank.
Irving, Washington. “Rip Van Winkle – a Study Guide.” Rip Van Winkle. 18 Feb. 2009