Rip Van Winkle is story is about a man trying to live up to his father, Dame Van Winkle's legacy for being so well respected and admired in his city. Unlike his father, Rip was often criticized by those around him for being unproductive and lazy. One day these comments got to him and Rip along with his dog decided to run away into the mountains where he met a mysterious man lugging alcohol who tricked him into getting drunk before proceeding to rob Rip of his belongings and his dog. After waking up he stumbles around looking for his belongings before quickly realizing that his belongings are long gone. After coming up empty-handed, he decided to head back home where he was met with unfamiliar faces, familiar faces that did not recognize him, and a city that vaguely resembled the one he lived in not so long ago. He saw blue coats instead of red, flags with stars and stripes, and a man who was the center of everyone's attention called “George Washington” whom he had never heard of prior to his departure. It seemed to Rip that the whole world around him had changed in his absence. The story represents a metaphor for how quickly the country was changing and how anyone who wasn't ready to put in the work to progress the nation was quickly left behind.
After Rip comes back from his long absence in the mountains he makes the journey down to the village and experiences a mixture of feelings of old/new. His house is still there, but it's disheveled and beyond repair, his kids are still alive, but they are all grown up and had dealt with his supposed death long ago. I think this contrast highlights how some Americans perceived the changes that the nation went through during the period, as being drastic, but not something completely new. - Ewan H
To certain people living in early America, particularly following the Revolutionary War, the story of Rip Van Winkle probably resonates very strongly. Obviously, the British colonies did not become the States over night as they did for Rip Van Winkle, however changes in politics and daily life that occurred really did shift over a relatively brief time period. In some ways though, as we see with Winkles rapid return to his previous daily life, everyday life for non-political Americans was not all that different from the way it was before the war. -Declan F
The tale of Rip Van Winkle is a demonstration of the changes that came to America following its Revolution, and particularly the haste with which changes came to be. Rip Van Winkle was asleep for a mere 20 years, and in that short time, he became nothing less than a stranger in a strange land, with terms and ideals that were, as Irving puts it so poignantly, “Babylonish jargon” to him. The tale covers the sheer scale and of the changes that occurred, touching upon politics (the introduction of voting and the two-party system), patriotism (the alteration of the portrait of King George III), and way-of-life (the growth of the town). Something else to note is that whilst the people change, some things - like the ever-present Kaatskill Mountains - remain the same to Van Winkle, which might be Irving suggesting that for all of the changes that America went through in this time period, it still retained some of its pre-Independence factors. -John M.
No doubt for Rip Van Winkle, he needed to learn what has changed and what had stayed the same, and a lot had certainly changed, especially within 6 years on the continent during his 20 year rest. Different identities were also shown such as the use of the word 'Tory', which in this case describes any citizen in the colony loyal to Britain, aka a loyalist. No doubt the biggest changes can be the ones that can't be seen right away. - David Y.
This story reminded me of one of my favorite topics in history: the French Revolution. In just the span of twenty-five years, France underwent 5 regime changes drastically altering the political and social lives of almost all the French citizens. Rip Van Winkle has experienced something just the same. In just the short span of twenty years, the colony that he knew and loved had changed so drastically becoming its own country seemingly “overnight.” This story uniquely combines the human experience and the political backdrop of the time period in a incredibly fascinating way. - Garrett Welch
The protagonist, Rip Van Winkle, goes hunting. While he’s hunting he hears someone calling his name and finds a man. Rip helps the man take his belongings to his home, drinks with them, and falls asleep. He wakes up in the same room but years have passed since he fell asleep. He goes back home to find that the American Revolution has already taken place and his wife and peers are dead. The extensive changes from when Rip fell asleep to when he finally woke up showcase how much the American economy and politics changed throughout the Revolution. - Annie
The story of Rip Van Winkle explains how life changed from the Revolution. We can see that many people post-revolutionary war had strong political ties to the newly formed political parties in the United States. However, for people who are not as active politically, we can see that everyday life for them wasn't so different than before the war. We can also see some comparisons in Irving's writing. For example, Dame Van Winkle can be seen as a shrew who is always bossing Rip Van Winkle around. You can compare her to the British government pre-revolutionary war. When Rip Van Winkle wakes up and returns to his town, Dame is gone and now his daughter is there. She takes in Rip and allows him to do what he pleases. Rip Van Winkle's daughter can be compared to the newly formed government of the United States. - Hank L