Analysis Pages

Metaphor in Rip Van Winkle

Metaphor Examples in Rip Van Winkle:

Rip Van Winkle

🔒 4

"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.

"the fiery furnace of domestic tribulation..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

One of the themes Irving returns to throughout his story is that of the freedom of the natural world set against the confinement of civilization. By invoking an industrial metaphor—that of a blacksmith’s furnace, used to make tools such as plows—to describe the natures of men with difficult wives, Irving is potentially making a larger statement about the damaging effects of societal expectations on the character of the individual.

"henpecked husband..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

In colloquial usage, “henpecked” refers to someone who is overwhelmed and controlled by a nagging wife. It derives from the communal behavior of chickens, which use pecking to maintain a social hierarchy that controls access to resources. There is also a metaphorical layer to the phrase: the hen, the wife, is described as petty and domestic, and her nagging is as sharp and repetitive as the pecking of a hen.

"This, however, always provoked a fresh volley from his wife, so that he was fain to draw off his forces..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

Building on his earlier statement that Rip has “inherited little of the martial character of his ancestors,” Irving defines Rip’s marital relationship as a martial one. While his predecessors “figured gallantly” in battle, though, Rip is unable to muster more than a shrug of his shoulders and a shake of his head when confronted by his wife.

Analysis Pages