Rip Van Winkle

Washington Irving

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Rip Van Winkle | Quotes


The great error in Rip's composition was an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor.


Rip is a man who will not work for money or engage in any labor that is profitable to him or his family.


Rip ... was one of those happy mortals of foolish, well-oiled dispositions, who ... would rather starve on a penny than work for a pound.


Rip's character is shown to be one of good nature, not bad-tempered idleness. He is overly easy-going and carefree rather than resentful at the thought of work.


Times grew worse ... as years of matrimony rolled on ... A sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.


Dame Van Winkle's shrewishness and complaints about her husband grow worse over time, making Rip's life more of a misery than ever.


[Rip] console[d] himself ... [at] a kind of perpetual club of the sages, philosophers, and other idle[rs] of the village ... on a bench [by] a small inn.


The inn is a haven for henpecked Rip and a refuge for other village men who laze away their days in idle chatter. The inn has a portrait of the king, establishing the pre-revolutionary period of the story, although the assembled men rarely, if ever, discuss politics.


Rip was ... reduced ... to despair; and his only alternative, to escape ... [the] clamor of his wife, was to take [his] gun ... into the woods.


This revelation of Rip's desperation sets the stage for the magical encounter on the mountain.


Rip ... marveled greatly what could be the object of carrying a keg of liquor up this wild mountain, yet ... something strange ... inspired awe.


Rip helps the stranger carry the keg of liquor up the mountain, but he is obsessed by the mystery of the stranger and the incomprehensible magical force he feels on the mountain. This sets up Rip's encounter with the ghosts, his drunkenness, and the magical rift in time.


One taste provoked another ... at length his senses were overpowered, his eyes swam in his head ... and he fell into a deep sleep.


The liquor, and Rip's taste for it, puts him into a drunken sleep that allows the magical passage of time to occur.


[H]e reached to where the ravine had opened through the cliffs to the amphitheater, but ... the rocks presented a high impenetrable wall.


The mountain's magic has changed its form and landscape. With the ghost crew gone, the amphitheater no longer exists. Such dramatic changes in the mountain could not arise from geology in only 20 years, but only from enchantment.


The very village was altered; it was larger and more populous ... [Rip] began to doubt whether both he and the world around him were not bewitched.


Rip feels that he must be bewitched to comprehend the changes he sees in his village after—as far as he knows—he's been gone only one night. The magic malleability of time and the constant change it brings to earthly life astound Rip.


The very character of the people seemed changed. There was a busy, bustling, disputatious tone about it, instead of the accustomed phlegm and drowsy tranquility.


Rip is amazed at how the people have changed. They are no longer friendly and easy-going, but argumentative and busy. Change affects people's values as well as the physical world.


Rip's heart died away at hearing of these sad changes in his home and friends, and finding himself thus alone in the world.


Rip feels heartbroken and forsaken in this new time. He despairs at the changes he sees and longs for someone who knows him. He still does not fully understand what has happened to him.


[Vanderdonk] recollected Rip ... and corroborated his story ... He assured the company that ... the Kaatskill mountains had always been haunted.


Rip's tale is affirmed by a historian's descendant, who confirms that the mountains are haunted by Hendrick Hudson. The quote mingles the fantastic and magical with the issue of truth and fiction in the story.


[Rip was] at that happy age when [he] could be idle with impunity ... and [he became] ... a chronicle[r] of the old times.


Despite his time travel and all the changes that have occurred, Rip persists in his idleness. Now, without his wife nagging at him—and with no responsibilities—Rip is respected in his idleness and is honored as a survivor of those who lived in a simpler, easier time, the days before the Revolutionary War.

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