RIP Van Winkle and the Emergence of American Mythology

RIPVan Winkleand the Emergence of American Mythology

RipVan Winkle is a short 1819 American story by Washington Irving that tells thestory of Rip Van Winkle, a Dutch villager who lives on the CatskillMountains of New York before the American revolution. Van Winkle iswidely beloved in town nonetheless, he dislikes hard work, which isthe source of his wife’s incessant nagging. One day, Van Winklegoes to explore the mountain with his dog in order to escape hiswife’s nagging. Nevertheless, he meets a group of men playingnine-pins, joins them, drinks their ale, sleeps through severaldecades, and wakes up after the American Revolution. Fundamentally,RIPVan Winkle displayscertain characteristics that establish it as an American myth.

Firstly,an American mythology is set in the past, particularly in a remoteplace and past. Correspondingly, RIPVan Winkleis set on the Catskill Mountains in the time before the AmericanRevolution (Irving and Wyeth&nbsp14). This makes readers nostalgicso that they can imagine themselves in the story as it unfolds.

Inaddition, an American mythology features incredible, impressive,heroic, mysterious, or magical events and their implications.Notably, Van Winkle met ghosts, drank their magic elixir, and sleptfor several decades — surely, how he slept for all those yearswithout starving to death is magical and mysterious. Inherently, themysterious events keep the readers interested in the story.

Lastly,American myths convey at least one positive message about a nation orits people. RIPVan Winkle meetsthis characteristic since it shows that the people who reside in theCatskill Mountains are optimistic in life and rely on humor to getthrough adversities. For instance, they make light Van Winkle’shaunting experience by stating that they too want the elixir so thatthey also escape their nagging wives. Intrinsically, this makes theauthor develop an appreciation for the people of reference.

Overall,RIPVan Winkle byIrving Washington is a legitimate American myth due to the fact thatit is set in the past, features mysterious events, and has a positivemessage about certain community. Seemingly, this story discourageslaziness, further establishing it as an American myth.


Irving,Washington, and N C. Wyeth.&nbspRipVan Winkle.Mineola, New York: Calla Editions, 2013. Print.