Rip Van Winkle Essay

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In the following essay excerpt, Martin explores the symbolism of the transformation of the village from a place of dreamy fantasy to one of stark reality.

The work of Washington Irving reflects significantly the quality of this tension between imaginative endeavor and cultural tendency. In Bracebridge Hall (1822), Irving tells us that he had experienced England with "the delightful freshness of a child," but that he was "a grown-up child." He admits in The Sketch-Book (1819-1820) that the scenic splendor of America has failed to stimulate him imaginatively; in Europe are "all the charms of storied and poetical association." America is filled with youthful promise, but Europe is rich "in the accumulated treasure of age." He longs for a meditative antiquity, for the "shadowy grandeurs of the past," in place of the "commonplace realities of the present." Irving's most profoundly felt imaginative need was to escape from such "commonplace...

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This section contains 2,025 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Rip Van Winkle Study Guide
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Rip Van Winkle from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.