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Irony in Rip Van Winkle

Irony Examples in Rip Van Winkle:

Rip Van Winkle


"A termagant wife may, therefore, in some respects, be considered a tolerable blessing..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

The use of the words “worth all the sermons” just prior goes well with this line, drawing religious themes into what would actually be quite undesirable. The irony here is that no one would reasonably describe a “fiery furnace of domestic tribulation” as a “blessing.” To some extent, Irving may be sincerely commending the sort of flexibility Rip has developed through his wife’s harangues; however, he is doing so in a very mocking way.

"junto..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

“Junto” here refers to the Junto, a club formed and led by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia in 1729. Its members were from varying backgrounds and they exchanged ideas about morals and philosophy, actively discussing topics such as politics, science, and strategies for self improvement. Its use here is ironic: despite referring to them as sages and philosophers, Irving has made it clear that the men on the bench before the inn are nothing of the sort.

"a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

Once again, Dame Van Winkle is characterized by a metaphor that references industrial tool use. Despite describing what must be a miserable existence for Rip and Wolf, the bitter irony of this metaphor—that unlike other tools, Dame Van Winkle’s tongue will never wear out—brings some levity to the description and lightens the situation’s direness.

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