An American Identity

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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The history, culture, and social development of the early United States play an important role in Irving's satirical short story "Rip Van Winkle". The American Revolution changed society and is seen as one of the most valuable pieces of United States history. Rip's changes in life are comparable to the early American society's revolution. The interpretation of this comparison could be seen as a good or bad change. I believe that early American society changed for the better and that created an identity of freedom for all people throughout history. These statements can be seen in some of the passages in Irving's short story. The event that clearly defines the issue of identity and change is when Rip returns after his sleep in the woods and believes he is an altered man. This event is a parallel to the American Revolution.

Rip Van Winkle's life was harsh and demanding.

"In a word, Rip was ready to attend to anybody's business but his own; but as to doing family duty, and keeping his farm in order, he found it impossible"(Irving 430). Rip was " a kind neighbor, and an obedient hen-pecked husband"(430), which introduces his wife, Dame Van Winkle. She would nag him over his duties and Rip would seek refuge in any way. Rip rebelling against his wife and the townspeople profiting from the scenario shows that the crown was losing respect while America was gaining the loyalty of its own people. Rips character portrays the society of America as seen by England and England is seen through his wife, Dame Van Winkle. These issues set the scene when "poor Rip was at last reduced almost to despair; and his only alternative to escape from the labor of the farm and the clamors of his wife,