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What has changed in Rip Van Winkle’s town after his twenty years of sleep? How has the economy changed? How have people’s ways of interacting changed? Does Irving seem to welcome or dislike these changes? How do you know?


How does “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” seem to regard Ichabod Crane? How is he different from those who have long lived in the valley? How would you characterize the clash of values between Crane and these long-time inhabitants?

10 Responses to “Wasington Irving and the New Republic”

  1. Kenton Ratliff says:

    Ichabod is physically different from the townsfolk. He is tall, skinny, timid, and awkward. These traits are contrasted by the villagers who are given a description, such as Brom Bones. These physical differences speak towards the larger ideological differences. Ichabod is a new-age intellectual who is confident in his speech, but that confidence is unsupported by his fear of superstition. Like my peers, I think this is a reflection of enlightenment values versus pre-enlightenment. It is important to note that Ichabod was a teacher. Had he been a down to earth, hard-working farmer, he would have fit in just fine.

  2. John Louie says:

    After 20 years of deep sleep, Rip Van Winkle returns to his village that has drastically changed. The village had many physical changes to the town and political changes to the attitude of the town. Initially, the new and bigger houses and the replacement of the village inn with a large Yankee hotel are the most shocking changes for Rip. However, after spending a little bit of time in the new town, Rip begins to notice a change in attitude and functioning of the town. Rip makes is thrown aback by the tumultuous change in the town and provides a unique perspective for the reader. Irving uses the antiquated views of Rip to highlight the changes political, economic, and cultural changes that grasped America during the early 1800’s. The economy has become more robust. There are more businesses and wealthier people in the town. People have become more concerned for the politics and administration of the town. Instead of the slow paced and mellow people of the town before Rip went into slumber, the new people of the town are politically charged and represent the revolutionary Americans. It seems that Irving takes a neutral approach to the change. Irving simply believes that change is an inevitable occurrence and that people must change in order to remain relevant.

  3. Melissa Ortega says:

    In “The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow,” Ichabod Crane is a well-liked man. He did not abuse his power as a school-master; he “administered justice with discrimination rather than severity” and only punished students who deserved it. Overall, he had a good relationship with his students. When he stayed on the farms of students who he instructed, he helped with “lighter labor” and took care of the young children instead of lounging around the farm. Women thought of him “a man of great erudition.” The people of Sleepy Hollow believe that the Headless Horseman is real without having any proof to confirm that. Crane on the other hand, needs evidence to be convinced that the Headless Horseman exists.

  4. Ameya Biradavolu says:

    After Rip Van Winkle’s wakes from his twenty years of sleep, he sees that his wife is now gone. Like someone said earlier, the loss of his wife is a facet of Rip’s loss of identity after his 20 years of sleep. I think while the story is an obvious metaphor for the revolutionary war and post revolution it also makes a lot of statements about identity and gender roles. He wife is depicted as someone who is often nagging him. In fact she is the one who makes him leave the house in the first place. When she is gone her direction to Rip, for small things like chores is gone. While I do not think that not having someone telling you to do chores signifies a complete loss of identity, the change is stability and lifestyle around him does. The portrayal of Rip’s wife as an unpleasant person who can also offer guidance, particularly domestic illustrates sentiments toward women at the time.

    Like someone mentioned earlier, this story reminded me of Cole’s portraits, for instance the death of Rips wife illustrates his the destruction portrait in which civilization is destroyed. Also Irving seems to dislike the rate at which everything has changed, because the city he portrayed before the sleep was good but I would not say ideal, for instance his wife is constantly scolding him, he doesn’t seem to be all that self-reliant. However, the what he awakes to is destruction.

  5. Benjamin Custer says:

    I’m inclined to think that Irving disliked the changes portrayed in Rip Van Winkle because, as Margaret points out, the shift is so jarring for Rip and the reader. When he re-enters the town, Rip finds his world turned upside-down and his loyalty to King George an offense rather than the standard. But by the end of the story, it’s hard to see it so negatively. Rip is ultimately able to return to his life of laziness, now without his wife to nag him, so however initially jarring these changes may be, they don’t actually have a huge long-term impact on his life. This, too, could be a perspective on pre- and post-Revolution America: for a brief time, it seemed like everything was swirling with change, but ultimately not much was different for an everyday villager

  6. Sophie Dodd says:

    I was most surprised by the idea of the change in identity in Rip Van Winkle. The town before he goes to sleep is calm and complacent, with the men talking together and smoking. They are subjects of King George but they don’t have much of an identity or defining characteristics. The narrator points out Rip’s martial ancestors, and Rip’s idleness does not identify him with those ancestors. Upon Rip’s return from the mountain, the town is abuzz with political talk and arguments, and the people seem to have established new ways of identifying. King George is replaced with George Washington and Rip is immediately asked which political side he identifies with, and his response labels him a ‘Tory’. This new society has no shortage of ways of identifying people. Even Rip’s idleness has come to be a positive identifier, as he is now old enough for it to be acceptable.

    In general, I thought this story was an excellent metaphor for the Revolutionary War. Rip is the colonies, going about their business but being nagged by England (Dame Van Winkle). When Rip leaves his wife to go up to the mountain, this is like the colonies deciding to leave England. The dreamlike state Rip experiences is similar to the flood of patriotism of the actual Revolutionary War. When he wakes up, however, and struggles to understand who he is, where he is and what he is, this is akin to the post-Revolution struggle to find an American identity. And, when Rip returns to the village, post-Revolution, his wife (England) is gone. I realize this is not a perfect metaphor but I think it calls attention to the importance of identity in the story of Rip Van Winkle.

    • Eric Truss says:

      The notion of an association between Rip’s wife and the English monarchy struck me as well while reading. If the reader is to view Mrs. Van Winkle as a stand-in for The King and his authority, it becomes easier to understand the seeming lack of direction of the now-independent colonies and their inhabitants. Just as Rip finds himself unmotivated without the constant prodding of his wife, the fledgling American economy starts and stops without oversight from Mother England.
      Whereas certain output was demanded by the crown and Mrs. Van Winkle in the past, the Americans and Rip are now free to act of their own volition. The results, as we can see in Rip’s return to the sluggishness he always desired, are less than stellar, both for Rip and the young nation.

  7. Margaret Cochrane says:

    After Rip Van Winkle’s twenty years of sleep, the most jarring change for me as the reader was the new charged political atmosphere. In just twenty short years, an entire new political system has been established and thrown into a high esteem. Since the colonies had been under English rule for so long, the speed of this change is exponential. Irving also points out the economic growth by commenting on the crowds of people and the sprawl of houses. I would say that Irving dislikes the changes, but more importantly, dislikes how quickly they are happening. We are viewing the world through the eyes of Van Winkle, so we’re meant to empathize with his confusion. In the blink of an eye (historically speaking), the economy can explode and political situations can change vastly.

    I keep thinking about this story in relation to Cole’s The Course of Empire Series. Maybe this is a stretch, but when Rip wakes up, he is in a sort of savage setting and perhaps walks through pastoral fields on his way back. When he gets to the town, it’s booming with life and yet some of his old favorite buildings are in total disrepair (his house, the inn, etc.). So four out of five scenes are technically represented. Perhaps the “destruction” scene is Rip’s actual realization – the moment he realizes everything he has known and loved is gone.

  8. Anne Entwisle says:

    Surrounding the legend of Sleepy Hollow, those who have lived in the valley longer seemed more inclined to believe in the presence of the headless horseman. Though Ichabod recounted the tale, he nonetheless did not seem to fully believe them, until his run-in with the supposed horseman. He demonstrates this through his very act of attempting to cross the bridge past nightfall. Additionally, the narrator mentions at the end that most attributed Crane’s disappearance to issues surrounding his courtship of Katrina Van Tassel. Many were suspicious of Crane’s rival, Brom Bones, who seemed to know more about his disappearance than what he was communicating. Additionally, he laughed whenever the shattered pumpkin was mentioned. However, the old Dutch wives continue to insist that Ichabod was “spirited away” by the Hessian. Although Irving wrote the story well after the age of Enlightenment, he seems to characterize the two theories as enlightened and not enlightened. Those who used enlightened thought, or the younger generation, used reason to explain Crane’s disappearance. They deducted from Brom Bone’s behaviors and the fact that his rival had just proposed to Katrina that night strongly suggests his responsibility in the occurrence. However, the older generation mimics that of pre-Enlightenment thought, and use the occult to explain Crane’s disappearance. This reasoning mimics the older tendency to refer to God to account for unexplained events.

    • Mary Sackbauer says:

      I agree with Anne in that Ichabod acts foolish towards the tale of headless horseman. As an outsider, he plays an unfamiliar role within the community. His confidence towards courtship with Katrina Van Tassel illustrates his arrogance and lack of relationship with the townspeople. He establishes himself as a strict teacher within the school house, yet outside he show fews morals or respect for the community. In this tight knit community, the older generations hold values of pre-enlightenment; therefore, as Anne explains, many of the towns people believe that God fostered crane’s disappearance. Although there is an argument to be made towards this claim, Bone’s behavior after Crane’s disappearance lead the reader to believe that there may be more to the story than Bone explains.

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