A detailed analysis of Irving’s classic short story “Rip Van Winkle,” including the following: its structure (including its realistic and supernatural ending); characters (protagonist and antagonist); themes (escapism and self-identity); and symbolism (particularly symbolic names).
Not as part of the six-page student handout, I have included four pages of extensive notes on the historical, geographical, and political background of the story: Henry Hudson, the Catskill Mountains, the Dutch settlement of what became New York, the American Revolutionary War, and its aftermath. In addition, a paragraph-by-paragraph glossary of the difficult words in “Rip Van Winkle” is appended.
These may assist you in answering any questions by your students, or you may decide to incorporate some of these “extras” into your class’s discussion of the story.
My handout, which has blanks that your students can fill in, is suitable for a homework assignment or as an in-class activity. An answer key is provided on separate pages at the end of the handout.
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.