In most short stories by Washington Irving, a romantic tone is established through his unrealistic view of society. In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Irving places the setting of the story in a tranquil society. Ironically, the exact opposite can be said for “Rip Van Winkle;” in which the setting is placed in a never-ending clash within Rip’s house. He is criticized constantly by his wife, presenting a perpetual conflict for Rip. In “Sleepy Hollow” the inhabitants do not take a liking to any foreigners or new custom; rather they are inclined to their own traditions and ways, cut off from the modern American influence. The commonality between these two stories is that the main characters have acquired desires that do not meet the demands or the lack there of of their surrounding peers. The protagonists of both “Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” do not care to change their romanticizing ways to cope with the realities of society, forcing them to abide by the consequences of their actions.
Romanticism is characterized as a heightened interest in nature and an emphasis on an individual’s expression of emotions and the imagination, therefore deviance of society’s set code and traditions. In “Sleepy Hollow,” Ichabod Crane moves from a big city to a quiet country as a school teacher. Irving Mentions several times in the story is Ichabod’s appetite for food and luxury in which, “His devouring mind’s eye he pictured to himself every roasting pig running about with an apple in his mouth; the pigeons were snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust” (Irving, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”).
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He has these desires because he used to live in a hustling and bustling society where desire for money, wealth, and success was everything. His income as a schoolteacher does not fulfill the basic necessities that he needs to survive properly. To make up for what he is lacking he would, “Convoy some of the smaller ones home, who happened to have pretty sisters, or good housewives for mothers, noted for the comforts of the cupboard” and he “Boarded and lodged at the homes of his pupils a week at a time” (Irving, “Hollow”).
Here, Ichabod feeds off of the success of other people because of his lack to do so. Ichabod, “Tall and exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, and feet that might have served for shovels. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose” (Irving, “Hollow”).
His physical nature sets him apart from the modern view of a buff and handsome man. His faulty looks parallel with his unfulfilled appetite and lack of success; both are disappointing and undesirable for anyone to have. However, because of Ichabod’s status in society, he is unable to change any of his problems. Furthermore, Ichabod feeds off of other people; this is why he falls in love with a gorgeous heiress, Katrina Van Tassel. Because of her large fortune, Ichabod sees her as everything that he only dreams of. Marrying Katrina would be the key for Ichabod receiving a greater status in life and fulfilling his appetite. However, Ichabod’s huge imagination overclouds his narrow mind. For example, he thinks that he could match up against Brom Bones, “the hero of the country round… He was broad-shouldered, with short curly black hair, and a bluff but not unpleasant countenance, having a mingled air of fun and arrogance” (Irving, “Hollow”).
Ichabod’s romantic thoughts about luxury veiled the reality that he was a feeble schoolteacher while Brom was a handsome and charming horseman. In one of the parties with Katrina Van Tassel, “Ichabod only lingered behind, according to the custom of country lovers, to have a tete-a-tete with the heiress, fully convinced that he was now on the highroad to success. Something, however, I fear me, must have gone wrong, for he sallied forth, after no very great interval, with an air quite desolate and chopfallen” (Irving, “Hollow”).
... and after the American Revolution. The metaphors of Irving’s Rip Van Winkle cover a variety of Revolutionary experience: America before ... of the young United States.The entire story Rip Van Winkle, by Washington Irving, is full of metaphors directed at the new ... device in an ironical way. The backdrop of "Rip Van Winkle" by Washington Irving is very political. The American Revolution occurs while ...
Ichabod acts carelessly when he rides into the night, not thinking of the tale of the Headless Horseman that he had just heard. At this point all he is thinking about is his stomach and how his desires will never be fulfilled because he will never have the wealth to sustain them. Ichabod’s romanticizing and rash decisions pull him out of reality and eventually place him at the will of the Headless Horseman.
The term “Rip Van Winkle,” is referred to as someone who is oblivious to social change or someone who sleeps a lot (Word Net Search).
In the short story “Rip Van Winkle,” Irving places the time period of the story in the mid to late 1700s in the American colonies. At this time, the newly founded colonies were in rural condition throughout America. The lifestyle that Rip bears throughout his day to day life is similar to his failing farm in which, “Fences were continually falling to pieces; his cow would either go astray, or get among the cabbages; weeds were sure to grow quicker in his fields than anywhere else” (Irving, “Rip Van Winkle”).
Rip Van Winkle’s attitude is to go along with the flow and drift to wherever the society takes him. His lack of motivation to try to succeed and provide for his family is greatly opposed by his wife, Dame Van Winkle. “If left to himself, he would have whistled life away in perfect contentment; but his wife kept continually dinning in his ears about his idleness, his carelessness, and the ruin he was bringing on his family” (Irving, “Rip”).
The criticism she gives Rip day in and day out, although tough, is much justified since Rip, “would rather starve on a penny than work for a pound” (Irving, “Rip”).
Dame wants the luxuries and riches that are unattainable because Rip, who has control of the family, does not care enough for his family to give them what they want, or at the least to sustain their well being. Rip’s one escape from the constant conflict presented between Dame and him, “was to take gun in hand and stroll away into the woods” (Irving, “Rip”).
... narrator, Irving introduces Dame Van Winkle, Rip's angry wife, who maintains contempt for Rip's laziness and carefree attitude. Dame Van Winkle' harsh ... Irving 18) (6) The Americans no longer were controlled by England and Dame Van Winkle no longer had a tight grip on Rip ... Pg. 1641-16456. Roch in, Domingo 'Rip Van Winkle an American story' Washington Irving. David Barefoot New York 1998 Pg. 14- ...
In general, the woods is a place which will never change because of the long standing history of the environmental system with the natural habitat. Therefore, the woods represents a place where, Rip can be that is not in a state of constant flux; unlike his home, it is a carefree community in which he can be his lazy, unproductive self. The long and vast area of the woods also represents the never-ending imagination of Rip in which anything can happen, hence Rip’s twenty year long sleep. The ruling authority of the colonies at this time was the aristocratic George III who cared nothing for the colonists. The exact same can be said for Rip Van Winkle; he is the ruling figure in his family and does not care if his family is on the verge of starving. The irony is that both the colonist and Dame Van Winkle are in constant uproar for lack of concern from the King and Rip. The connection between the King and Rip can clearly be seen when Rip says, “I am a poor quiet man, a native of this place, and a loyal subject of the king, God bless him!” (Irving, “Rip”).
The townspeople are quick to label him as dangerous and almost thrust him out of town after hearing this. After he has been asleep for twenty years, he has no knowledge of the War and the colonists fight for independence from the tyranny of the King. “He sleeps through what was the defining moment of American history, and upon waking, he does not even care. This develops him as the American anti-hero, for he takes no part in the country’s founding or history” (Gradesaver).
His lack of recognition beyond himself and Dame causes Rip to be looked at as the American anti-hero; because even though he is a village hero from helping his neighbors with problems, he takes no part in the making and history of America or better yet, the American dream. In fact, the idleness that he possesses towards earning a living makes him the antithesis of the American dream. Due to Rip Van Winkle’s lack of motivation and his failure to change for the good of society, he has lost any hope of grasping the American Dream because his only incentive to become better (Dame) is gone and Rip is now a ‘dead man’, having no motivation to want to live.
“Rip and Ichabod find themselves facing a reality that can only seem to them to be fabulous, though for Rip the sense of the fantastic tends to accumulate in time after the fact, while for Ichabod the dimensions of experience are accelerated to impossible proportions by his own furtive imagination” (Shear).
... false hopes. In Passing, Nella Larsen describes the American Dream as a reality, and shows this by saying that people can achieve ... books confront the myth of the American Dream. The American Dream can either be a reality or a nightmare depending upon the cultural ... lifestyle. Thus the fundamental discrepancy between the American Dream v / s the American Reality exists due to the existence of poverty. ...
Irving places the romantic mindset in protagonists of both “Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”. Ironically, Ichabod’s situation differs completely from Rips, however both characters do not live in conjunction with their surroundings; Ichabod wants luxuries and a great status while living in a very tranquil, remote community, apart from the bustling cities. Rip is a very lazy, laid back guy living in a fluctuating society that is on the verge of independence. Ichabod’s faulty looks can be compared with Rip’s deficient farm; both are imperfections of the protagonist that the antagonist of both “Sleepy Hollow” (Brom) and “Rip Van Winkle” (Dame) look upon as inferior. Interestingly enough, both the protagonist and the antagonist are in each others’ ways of what they want or desire. Brom Bones is in the way of Ichabod fulfilling his appetite by marrying Katrina Van Tassel and vise versa. Dame Van Winkle is in the way of Rip being at peace and quiet and Rip is in the way of Dame attaining wealth and status. Both stories, “are populated by characters whose contact with or belief in the supernatural precipitates either, in the first case, their being left behind politically (Rip) or, in the second case, their failure to acquire great wealth (Ichabod)” (Smith).
Belief in the supernatural is a perfect explanation of Rip and Ichabod, for both characters take greater steps out of reality as they draw further to their dreams. However, they are only dreams, for their desires do not fit in with the realities of society forcing them to not want to adapt to the ‘climate’ in which they are living.
Both Ichabod and Rip’s romantic mindset causes them to have this fabulous illusion of reality, congruent to a mirage. They act irrationally in their illusions, or twisted views of reality; they forget that dreams take work to become reality. Unfortunately, the protagonists’ outcome is a direct result of their output, or a lack there of.