Rip Van Winkle was considered a happy, careless, and foolish man who was unconcerned with his own life, but would help help his neighbors who are in need with their daily tasks. He is one to sit on a bench and smoke his pipe incessantly, rather than help out his wife, Dame Van Winkle. One day Rip takes a walk with his dog up into the mountain and comes across some strange people, they offer him a drink, and the next thing Rip knows, he is waking up at the stump of a tree, with his dog nowhere to be found and his gun decomposing, twenty years later. I believe the significance of the nap is to reflect what kind of person Rip Van Winkle is, he is one to just let everything pass by and not care at all. One mythological characteristic is that the story is set back in the past, usually in remote or exciting places and times. The main thing I noticed was when Rip described the clothing. “…a cloth jerkin strapped round the waist—several pairs of breeches, the outer one of ample volume, decorated with rows of buttons down the sides, and bunches at the knees.” It isn’t very common that you hear the word jerkin.
One other thing that the reader may have noticed that they used a sun-dial, which was used in the past. Both of these items show that this story was written in the past. This makes the reader think back, and think of how it would possibly be like to live back then. The next mythological characteristic is that the story is filled with remarkable, strange, and exaggerated characters. As Rip Van Winkle was walking he came across “…odd–looking personages playing at ninepins. They were dressed in quaint outlandish fashion; some wore short doublets, others jerkins, with long knives in their belts, and most of them had enormous breeches, of similar style with that of the guide’s.
Their visages, too, were peculiar; one had a large head, broad face, and small piggish eyes; the face of another seemed to consist entirely of nose, and was surmounted by a white sugar–loaf hat, set off with a little red cock’s tail. They all had beards, of various shapes and colors.” Another example of this was when Rip was reminded that “…the figures in an old Flemish painting, in the parlor of Dominie Van Schaick, the village parson, and which had been brought over from Holland at the time of the settlement.” While, those characteristics may not seem to strange to the reader, they did to Rip. This may make the reader think of when they may travel and see people in strange clothing, that is what Rip may have experienced. And the last mythological characteristic is that the story features incredible, heroic, impressive, magical, or mysterious events and their consequences.
As Rip awakes, he notices that his gun has started to decompose, which makes him believe that the people from the night before, had switched his gun, but as he returns to his village, he starts to realize that he had been asleep much longer than he had realized. As he asked where his friends may be they answer “Nicholas Vedder? why, he is dead and gone these eighteen years!” Another example is when he meets his daughter, who is now grown and has a family of her own. The reader may not have considered this incredible, heroic, or impressive, there is no doubt that they considered it magical or mysterious. It makes the reader think how such an event could ever happen.
As I said before, that Rip Van Winkle’s nap of eighteen years could resemble his laziness and how he lets things pass by without a care in the world, I hoped that experience made Rip realize how careless he is, but as the story continues Rip Van Winkle’s wife, Dame Van Winkle was mentioned “…he shook his head, shrugged his shoulders, and cast up his eyes; which might pass either for an expression of resignation to his fate, or joy at his deliverance.” Which shows that Rip has returned to his old habits, but maybe has picked up a few good ones.
Courtney from Study Moose
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