Comparing Rip Van Winkle And The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow

1653 Words7 Pages
Bill Lynn ENG 203-07 Mr. Selich Finding America in Washington Irving’s Writings Many Americans will agree that the times we live in now are much different than that of the times of Washington Irving. Irving’s life happened around 200 years ago. The differences in our beautiful country now compared those days is nearly a night and day difference. However, the setting of two of his short stories: “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” can be related to the way that many Americans still live today. The faces and names have all changed from those days, many more institutions have replaced the roles that used to be handled by people, but in whole there is still a resemblance to contemporary America. One of the biggest differences…show more content…
Ichabod is definitely different from the people of Sleepy Hollow, and the women especially hold him in esteem because he is a teacher and refined. Though he supplements his income by doing anything that he can, including manual labor, he is never truly a part of the community for he is merely acting a part convenient to his livelihood. The overall impression we get of Ichabod is that he feels himself superior to the villagers. Conversely, characters like Brom Bones feel superior to Ichabod (Irving 50). This is an attitude on both sides still prevails today. Many times in my life, I have encountered people from the East who want to know if we have running water and electricity in Oklahoma. People with a formal education often underestimate my father, a self-made man, because his speech resounds of Tennessee and Alabama, where he grew up. He is in many ways like Brom Bones, a big, brawny, practical joker; however, unlike Bones, he has always longed for an education. On the other hand, folks from the country often feel morally superior to those from the big city. They shake their heads at the complicated, hurried lives of those who dwell in metropolises. More specific than town and country is the contrast of Ichabod and Brom as personalities. As we mentioned in class, these are two stereotypes common today in the images of the nerd and the jock. Many movies…show more content…
For all our advanced learning and debunking of myth, America is still superstitious and loves a good urban legend. We also still value neighborliness in rural towns, though not to the extent that was expected in early America. The clearest support I find that America is, at its core, not that different from Irving’s America is the fact that his stories still thrive today. We do not read them and feel disconnected with the characters. We read them and recognize ourselves or people we know in the figures Irving brings to life. The hen-pecked husband that takes the equivalent of an Australian walkabout; the perky, rich girl playing one suitor off another; the brawny he-man that all the girls dream of; the charismatic teacher/preacher who mesmerizes the ladies of the town with his sensibility and refinement and confounds the men: all of these are found in any town across America today and in America during any part of the last 200 years. Irving’s longevity as a writer relies on this zeroing in on the elements of character that remain consistent from generation to generation. His essays have not lasted because they are too entrenched in events and figures particular to his time. We don’t laugh at the satire because we don’t know the people or events being parodied. However, we do recognize the

More about Comparing Rip Van Winkle And The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow

Open Document