Literary Devices in Rip Van Winkle
Epigraph: An epigraph is an excerpt from another text that an author provides at the beginning of their work to provide context or perspective for what’s to follow. Epigraphs frequently suggest themes or points of view, and are generally associated with longer serious or epic works. Here, Irving’s choice of specific source text shows him to be employing his epigraph in a satirical way, mockingly elevating to literary status a narrative he has constructed to mimic a folk story.
Frame narrative: Washington Irving published “Rip Van Winkle” as the work of a fictitious “Geoffrey Crayon.” The pseudonym allowed Irving to interact with his stories for the benefit of his readers, creating a dynamic rather like that of being told a story by a trusted friend. Within this collection, “Rip Van Winkle” and another famous story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” are both attributed (in the voice of Geoffrey Crayon) to another fictional persona of Irving’s, that of the Dutch historian Diedrich Knickerbocker. The description of Knickerbocker’s work that pre- and postfaces the story itself is part of a frame narrative, that of Crayon’s finding and publishing Knickerbocker’s papers. By so layering the content of the story, Irving calls attention to questions of narrative reliability and trustworthiness, as well as to the process by which stories become legends through the process of repetition.
Literary Devices Examples in Rip Van Winkle:
Rip Van Winkle🔒
"swelling up to a noble height, and lording it over..." See in text (Rip Van Winkle)
"He was after his favorite sport of squirrel-shooting, and the still solitudes had echoed and re-echoed with the reports of his gun...." See in text (Rip Van Winkle)
"He was observed, at first, to vary on some points every time he told it..." See in text (Rip Van Winkle)
"There was a busy, bustling, disputatious tone about it, instead of the accustomed phlegm and drowsy tranquillity...." See in text (Rip Van Winkle)
"Peter was the most ancient inhabitant of the village, and well versed in all the wonderful events and traditions of the neighborhood...." See in text (Rip Van Winkle)
"There was a drop of comfort, at least, in this intelligence...." See in text (Rip Van Winkle)
"The following Tale was found among the papers of the late Diedrich Knickerbocker..." See in text (Rip Van Winkle)