A Dream In Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle

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The story of Rip Van Winkle, a tale written by Washington Irving, can be considered the first form of American fiction. The author chose this genre as an attempt to attract the reader, presenting an important historic event— the American Revolution— in a way that would be both realistic and didactic to the average American reader. This tale, as told by the author in the introduction, appears to have been found among the belongings of a Dutch historian, Diedrich Knickerbocker. Due to the lack of books during his time, this historian had frequently resorted to men for his research, and in particular to their wives, for he considered them to be "rich in that legendary lore, so invaluable to true history" (29). With the creation of this historian, Irving creates the perfect setting for the story he is about to tell. Taking inspiration from old European tales, he gives America something that…show more content…
In Rip's case, the narrator describes it as being "an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labour" (31). In the end, it is this flaw and Rip's marital situation— with Dame Van Winkle always criticizing him for his lack of responsibility— that lead the protagonist up the mountains where his dream begins. Rip's dream, however, initially is more similar to a nightmare than to a real dream. He is described as scared of the strange men he finds up in the mountains, he obeys them with "fear and trembling" (35) and it is not until he tastes the beverage that the men carried that the nightmare finally turns into a dream that ends when Rip falls into a deep sleep. It is this scene that portrays the historical value of the story. The nightmare is associated with historical figures, and so is the silence surrounding the scene. History can be considered silent and it will be Rip who will give it a voice— dedicating his time to telling this tale and other stories about life before the American
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