Rip Van Winkle Essay

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Bily teaches writing and literature at Adrian College. In this essay, Bily examines Irving's manipulation of the hero archetype in his story.

Although Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" offers one of the most widely recognized characters in all of American literature, and was a part of the first book by an American to win international acclaim, it is in many ways not an American story at all. Irving was not shy about admitting, and scholars have since verified, that the basic elements of his plot were borrowed from German folk tales that he learned about through a life of reading and traveling.

Beneath that level of influence, however, lie deeper levels. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875-1961) theorized that behind each individual's unconscious lies the human "collective unconscious," the memories of our existence before history, or even before we became human. As we struggle to regain our memory...

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This section contains 1,957 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Rip Van Winkle Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
Rip Van Winkle from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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