Throughout “Rip Van Winkle,” Washington Irving creates a feature of a henpecked husband, Rip, who goes to the mountain to avoid his wife, but finds that he has slept for twenty years and wakes after the American Revolution.
While reading “Rip Van Winkle”, I found that it goes through in a comical way. What attracted me most is that there are some points very similar to Chinese stories, such as the henpecked characteristic and the time change. At first, it seems to me that I am reading a funny Chinese story! In addition, when I read it second time, I found that besides “comicality”, there are many serious political metaphors in the story: “‘Rip Van Winkle’ especially offers political satire masked in the form of entertainment” (Michelle Hornick).
To my surprise, under such a comical plot, there also exits some political metaphors whether are images or satire. Therefore, this paper discusses the political metaphors in the story.
Totally speaking, this story is divided into two parts, before and after Rip’s twenty-year nap in the Kaatskill Mountains, roughly between 1760s and 1780s. In other words, we can say that the American Revolution divides it into two parts. It is interesting that Rip sleeps through
Irving describes that people are filled with a newfound energy looking forward to the next elections and are talking loudly by using political terms. Seeing that the atmosphere in Rip"tms family is going from bad to worse, the village, however, is benefit from Rip"tms help. Therefore, Rip could only go to the Kaatskill Mountains with his gun and his faithful dog, Wolf, to find refugee. However, after revolution, America is independent and has its own political rights. They not only fight back their deserved rights, but also earn back their colorful life. David Thoreen indicates, "The question of Federal or Democrat, first fore grounded by Rip"tms arrival at the polling place on Election Day, is quickly overwhelmed by Rip"tms pledged allegiance to King George, reminding us of the more fundamental shift from monarchy to democracy" (48). This shows that the Crown is losing his power and people in America, whereas America is gaining more people"tms loyalty and becoming stronger, finally leads to the American Revolution. In order to avoid Dame Van Winkle"tms nag, Rip would go to the village inn and staying with his idle friends. The Discussing TopicsBefore the American Revolution, people in front of the inn are talking about idle gossips. Americans were trying to avoid the tyranny of the Crown, just as Rip would do everything possible to escape his overbearing wife" (Smith). However, after Rip"tms sleep, the villagers are full of energy in talking about the election and are enthusiastic in asking others"tm political opinions. Therefore, this is good evidence that the Americans do not like to live under the constant nagging by the Crown in the perfect new world. What I want to emphasize now is that because of the twenty-year sleep, he finds that Dame Van Winkle is dead.