Rip Van Winkle as an Example of American Mythology

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American Mythology has been normalized with tails like Johnny apple seed and gorge Washington cutting down a cherry tree but this but this wasn’t always the truth. Everything has a beginning and American Mythology has an origin one example being Rip Van Winkle by Benjamin Irving. This story has many elements synonymous with American mythology that effect the readers experience. Van Winkle has exaggerated characters, mysterious events, and is set in the past. The elements from American mythology can affect the reader’s experience, do to the American culture that is essential to the main plot of said stories, without prior knowledge details in the story that are significant will inefficiently get the main idea across. Using direct examples from the text and analyzing the story these three characteristics of an American mythology will be proved and supported with evidence along with proving their importance to the readers experience.

In Benjamin Irving’s Rip Van Winkle, the essence of American mythology can be traced throughout the text. Prime examples of use in American mythologies tropes is Irving’s exaggerated characters. Van winkle features a wife described as “termagant” and often intruding on whatever peace the main character finds. This example is furthered with the majority of towns people being boiled down to only speaking of gossip and things of little meaning to van winkle. Another example of American mythology literary tool being infused into the story is Irving’s application of mysterious events as well as the setting of being placed into the past.

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The story of van winkle really starts to pick up when van winkle goes into the forest, he beings to get fatigued and ends up falling asleep. Upon awakening he notices strange occurrences like finding a rusty gun, his beard longer than when he fell asleep, and his house no longer in living conditions. Van winkle eventually finds out that he had been sleeping for 20 years. The towns people are unsure about his story until its confirmed by the eldest in the town and the story concludes with the towns people talking about the first presidential election. These are just some of the prime examples of American mythologies ideals being used in Benjamin Irving’s Rip Van Winkle.

American mythology creates a experience for the reader. Knowing some of the elements that make American mythology what is will help further the idea of effecting the reader. For example, a prominent point in American mythology where a reader’s experience is affected is occurrences of historical events in American history. Without the reader having prior background knowledge on this topic this event can be completely missed of minimized, efficiently changing the readers experience.

This can be seen in rip van winkle as the first presidential election is being discussed towards the end of the story this is an important marker for how much time has passed while he was asleep. The reader does not need to know what exactly the story is referring to but know would defiantly change what the readers final thoughts of the story maybe. This is why a reader’s experience can be affected by the writing style such as American mythology.

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Rip Van Winkle as an Example of American Mythology. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 19, 2024, from
“Rip Van Winkle as an Example of American Mythology.” Edubirdie, 08 Jul. 2022,
Rip Van Winkle as an Example of American Mythology. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Apr. 2024].
Rip Van Winkle as an Example of American Mythology [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 08 [cited 2024 Apr 19]. Available from:

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