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Setting in Rip Van Winkle

Setting Examples in Rip Van Winkle:

Rip Van Winkle

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"a little village of great antiquity..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

Rip’s village is idealized as a quiet, stable, secluded hamlet, rural and peaceful, much like Rip himself. This is a common feature of folktales: protagonists being driven from their secure, idyllic surroundings and encountering something strange in the wild. In following this convention, Irving is priming his readers for a fairy-tale-like story, supporting his intended placement of “Rip Van Winkle” into a folklore tradition for the United States.

"these fairy mountains..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

This description of the Catskill mountains began with an appeal to the lived experiences of travelers who have seen them. To then describe them as “fairy mountains” removes them from that realm of lived experience and gives them an air of mystery and otherworldliness. While the mountains are a real place, they given over in this story to unreal forces, foreshadowing both the story’s function as a fairy tale and strangeness of the events it describes.

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