Satire In Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle

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The simplicity of early colonial life, where the daily goal was to pray, work, and survive, left little room for any leisure. Toiling for just the basic necessities to live, colonists withstood their hardships and unsheathed the covers of the “American Dream.” Quite the contrary, Rip Van Winkle, from the famous tale “ Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving, displayed the very opposite lifestyle of an early American colonist. Disregarding domestic responsibility and experiencing a peculiar adventure, Rip Van Winkle evoked a humorous and satirical interpretation of the New England life. As William Cullen Bryant stated, Irving used his “amiable” and “best-natured” satire to express his views about the life of America, ideally, religiously and politically.…show more content…
“A simple good-natured fellow,” Winkle displays to be helpful in every aspect, where he would “never refuse to assist a neighbor.” Content with just teaching kids how “to fly kites” or “run errands” for “the women of the village,” Winkle is never truly working for his benefit or living his life to the fullest capacity. As his “fences … continually fall” and his “cows … go astray”, Rip finds it “impossible to attend to his “family duties.” He neglects his children “as if they belonged to nobody,” while accepting the “sharp tongue” of his wife with just a shrug of his shoulders and a silent response. Hinted by his name, “Rip” is in a state of continuous peace, where he is unable to alter or improve his life as if he was already dead. Washington Irving criticizes the idea of living solely under altruistic ideals by illustrating the failures of Rip Van Winkle’s life with his dying farm, nagging wife, and his “ragged” and “wild” kids. While to everyone else Winkle is a capable and benevolent man, to his family and himself, he is incompetent and lethargic. Irving creates Rip having this two-faced persona to show the faults in a life devoted to others. Although selfless acts are respectable, Irving shows how the unwillingness to say no and the negligence of one’s life are toxic and…show more content…
In the story of “Rip Van Winkle,” Irving mocks the Puritan religion through the description and actions of Dame Van Winkle. Depicted as a “termagant wife,” Dame Van Winkle is stern and humorless as she nags “morning, noon, and night.” Anything that doesn’t go her way, “produce[s] a torrent of household eloquence.” Dame is an allegory for the Puritan religion as she shows the extreme form discipline and strictness by she “continually [dines Rip’s] ears about his idleness [and]… carelessness. Even going into the extent of “suddenly break[ing] … the assemblage” of Rip’s and his friends’ haven for small talk, Dame is unsympathetic to the idea of ease and leisure, where hard work and duty gives life its satisfaction. Dame is a satire for the harsh realities of the Puritan religion. Illustrating its rigid and uncompromising lifestyle, Irving criticizes the Puritan religion by showing the horrors of and distastefulness of the “terrible virago,” Dame Van

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