'Rip Van Wrinkle' is an interesting story about a strange man, Rip Van Wrinkle, who finds sleeps at a time when his society is undergoing transformation. Set in Catskill Mountains of New York in a period spanning the American Revolution, the story embodies American mythology and to a great extent, reflects emergence of American mythology.
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To begin with, as is the character of myths, the story is set in the past in a remote exiting place: Catskill Mountains and a surrounding village. At the beginning, a remote scene is set when the mountains are personified as members of the same 'Appalachian family' who lord over surrounding countryside. The mountains are 'clothed in purple and blue, 'print their outlines on the clear sky' and 'gather a hood of gray vapors about their summits. They are described as 'fairy' and capable of determining the weather patterns if not the destiny of those who live near them. Description of the village as one of 'great antiquity' makes the reader picture a traditional setting at the foot of a picturesque, mighty and powerful mountain. It is this powerful depiction of the mountain that enables the reader to appreciate the way it transforms Rip Van Wrinkle after he wonders upon its valleys later. The same village is depicted differently at the end of the story to symbolize a new dawn: it is busier and more advanced.
In addition, "Rip Van Wrinkle" is mythical as it presents characters that are remarkable and strange. Rip Van Wrinkle, the main character is generous, 'blessed' and popular among he people though he is averse to hard work. The nagging Dame Van Wrinkle intimidates Rip and his dog Wolf to submission. Rip idles in the company of Nicholas Vedder, a peculiar landlord of an inn, who puffs differently to express his emotions and moves his chair to avoid sun's heat so predictably that neighbors can tell 'the hour by his movements as accurately as by a sun-dial'. The most remarkable character is the man Rip comes across carrying a keg in the mountain. He calls Rip by his name and leads him to a hollow amphitheatre where he meets peculiar personality amid 'distant thunder' and 'rolling peals' in the nearby ravines. He embodies Hudson's spirit and his interactions with Rip enhance the mythical nature of the story. This is strengthened by presence of a solitary crow when Rips name is being called out.
Lastly, Irvin features mysterious events which contribute towards Rip's turning point. Due to his greed, he secretly imbibes liquor leading to his slumber only to wake up to a new political and social order. The new order is symbolized by the bright morning where birds are 'twittering and hopping' from tree to tree. Wolf is gone, joints are rheumatic and the strange men are nowhere in sight. In this confusion, he walks towards the village which is not as receptive as he had hoped. It takes time for relatives and others in the village to recognize him. This transformation symbolizes change from reign of King George to George Washington's; a change that has taken place in Rip's absence. In the new order in America, Rip will not get the men he used to converse with. Instead everyone is busy, the society has changed and even his previous inn is now 'busy' and 'bustling' to his astonishment.
Characteristics discussed above enrich the mythical essence of 'Rip Van Wrinkle' in addition to enhancing readers' understanding of elements of American literary foundation. It succeeds in detailing, in a humorous manner, how American Revolution transformed a tiny Americans village socially and politically by merging History and myth.
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