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Sleepy Hollow V. Rip Van Winkle

1863 words - 8 pages

In most short stories by Washington Irving, a romantic tone is established through his unrealistic view of society. In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Irving places the setting of the story in a tranquil society. Ironically, the exact opposite can be said for “Rip Van Winkle;” in which the setting is placed in a never-ending clash within Rip’s house. He is criticized constantly by his wife, presenting a perpetual conflict for Rip. In “Sleepy Hollow” the inhabitants do not take a liking to any foreigners or new custom; rather they are inclined to their own traditions and ways, cut off from the modern American influence. The commonality between these two stories is that the main characters have ...view middle of the document...

Here, Ichabod feeds off of the success of other people because of his lack to do so. Ichabod, “Tall and exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, and feet that might have served for shovels. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose” (Irving, “Hollow”). His physical nature sets him apart from the modern view of a buff and handsome man. His faulty looks parallel with his unfulfilled appetite and lack of success; both are disappointing and undesirable for anyone to have. However, because of Ichabod’s status in society, he is unable to change any of his problems. Furthermore, Ichabod feeds off of other people; this is why he falls in love with a gorgeous heiress, Katrina Van Tassel. Because of her large fortune, Ichabod sees her as everything that he only dreams of. Marrying Katrina would be the key for Ichabod receiving a greater status in life and fulfilling his appetite. However, Ichabod’s huge imagination overclouds his narrow mind. For example, he thinks that he could match up against Brom Bones, “the hero of the country round... He was broad-shouldered, with short curly black hair, and a bluff but not unpleasant countenance, having a mingled air of fun and arrogance” (Irving, “Hollow”). Ichabod’s romantic thoughts about luxury veiled the reality that he was a feeble schoolteacher while Brom was a handsome and charming horseman. In one of the parties with Katrina Van Tassel, “Ichabod only lingered behind, according to the custom of country lovers, to have a tete-a-tete with the heiress, fully convinced that he was now on the highroad to success. Something, however, I fear me, must have gone wrong, for he sallied forth, after no very great interval, with an air quite desolate and chopfallen” (Irving, “Hollow”). Ichabod acts carelessly when he rides into the night, not thinking of the tale of the Headless Horseman that he had just heard. At this point all he is thinking about is his stomach and how his desires will never be fulfilled because he will never have the wealth to sustain them. Ichabod’s romanticizing and rash decisions pull him out of reality and eventually place him at the will of the Headless Horseman.
The term “Rip Van Winkle,” is referred to as someone who is oblivious to social change or someone who sleeps a lot (Word Net Search). In the short story “Rip Van Winkle,” Irving places the time period of the story in the mid to late 1700s in the American colonies. At this time, the newly founded colonies were in rural condition throughout America. The lifestyle that Rip bears throughout his day to day life is similar to his failing farm in which, “Fences were continually falling to pieces; his cow would either go astray, or get among the cabbages; weeds were sure to grow quicker in his fields than anywhere else” (Irving, “Rip Van Winkle”). Rip Van Winkle’s attitude is to go along with the flow and drift to...

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