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Hero of American Romantisism
Have you ever had someone be so nice and kind that they are like a hero to you? Well this is exactly what Rip from Washington Irving's “Rip Van Winkle” is like. The characteristics of the American romantic hero are what makes Rip a hero. Rip Van Winkle is a man that lives in a village where everybody likes. Rips wife however can be a little annoying sometimes so when he wonders off into the woods for a while to get away from her he ends up falling a sleep for a few years when he wakes up things are a lot different for him. Rip Van Winkle portrays the element of the classic American romantic hero through his youthful qualities, innocence and pure purpose, sense of honor, knowledge of people and life, his interaction with nature, and quest for a higher truth.
First, Rip shows his romantic heroism through his youthful qualities. Rip Van Winkle isn’t actually youthful. He is in fact a fairly old man. However he does portray youthful qualities. An example is on pg. 156-157: "The children of the village to would shout with joy whenever he approached. He assisted at their sports, made their playthings, taught them to fly kites and shoot marbles and told them long stories of ghosts witches and Indians.” This shows that Rip has youthful qualities. He enjoys acting like he is youthful again by playing with all the kids. Rip makes a great romantic hero by expressing his youthful qualities, which is an important thing to have.
The second characteristic of Rip that makes him a romantic hero is his innocence and pure purpose. Rip is a really nice guy and is willing to do almost anything to help someone out, but he refuses to be paid. An example is on page 156 where it says, "the great error in Rips composition was an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor." Rip shows his innocence by helping people out and not wanting to be paid for his work; he just wants to be helpful. Clearly from the example above, Rip’s innocent and pure purpose makes him a romantic hero.
The third romantic hero characteristic that Rip shows is his sense of honor. Rip has a sense of honor and does not want to interfere with silly things that people argue about. An example is on pg. 157
“For a long while he used to console himself when
driven from home by frequenting a kind of perpetual club of the sages philosophers and other idle personages of the village which held sessions on a bench before a small inn designated by a rubicund portrait of his majesty George the third. Here they used to sit on the shade through a long lazy summers day talking listlessly over village gossip or telling endless sleepy stories about nothing.” This shows that Rip doesn’t make fun of the old men with the stories they are telling he just respects them and honors them. Rip’s sense of honor clearly shows that he is indeed a hero.
The forth thing that depicts Rip as a romantic hero is his knowledge of people and life. Rip doesn’t like to see people mad and would help any one with any situation. An example is on page 156: "he would never refuse to assist a neighbor even in the roughest toil and was a foremost man at all country frolics for husking Indian corn or building stone fences. The women of the village too used to employ him to run their errands and to do such little odd jobs as their less obliging husbands would not do for them." Here Rip knows how to make the people in his village happy by helping them out with stuff. Rips knowledge of people and life show how he is a romantic hero.
Another characteristic of a romantic hero is that Rip loves nature. When he is feeling upset or stressed he will go into nature to relax. An example is on page 156 where it says, "he would carry a fowling piece on his shoulder for hours together trudging through woods and swamps and up hill and down dale to shoot a few squirrels or wild pigeons." This shows that Rip will go into the wilderness for hours just to enjoy it. Another example of Rip being a hero is on page 147 in the “Before You Read” section here it talks about the setting of a story with a romantic hero it says, "eternal truths were waiting to be discovered not in dusty libraries or crowded cities or glittering court life but in the American wilderness that was unknown and unavailable to Europeans." This is exactly where Rip is, most of the story takes place in the wilderness. Rips love for nature most defiantly shows how he is a romantic hero.
The last thing that makes Rip a romantic hero is his quest for higher truth. After he wakes up and understands what has happened, Rip found his old friends and started making new friends in the generation that has been growing since he was gone. An example is on pg. 165 " Rip now resumed his old walks and habits he soon found many of his former cronies though all rather worse for the wear and tear of time and preferred making friends amount the rising generation with he soon grew into great favor." By finding new friends and meeting back up with some old ones Rip has found the higher purpose in life. Just from the proof above you can see that Rips quest for higher truth makes him a romantic hero.
In conclusion Rip portrays the characteristics of the American Romantic Hero through youthful qualities, innocence and pure purpose, sense of honor, knowledge of people and life, his interaction with nature, and quest for a higher truth. His youthful qualities showed he was a romantic hero because all the kids in the town loved him and he would play with them. Rip shows innocent pure purpose because he is always helping people. His sense of honor shows he never tries to change people's minds and just lets them think what they want to think. His knowledge of people and life show he is just nice to people all the time. His love for nature, he is always spending time in nature. Last his quest for a higher truth, which he eventually found. Everything Rip shows is a characteristic of a romantic hero. If you want to be a romantic hero just do exactly what Rip van winkle did
Irving, Washington. “Rip Van Winkle.” Elements of Literature: Fifth Course. Ed. Kathleen Daniel. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2000.
Probst, Robert E.. Elements of literature literature of the United States, with Literature of the Americas. Austin, [Tex.: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2000. Print.