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Identify the characteristics of Transcendentalism found in Rip Van Winkle.

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winter567 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted May 31, 2012 at 8:30 PM via web

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Identify the characteristics of Transcendentalism found in Rip Van Winkle.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 31, 2012 at 11:59 PM (Answer #1)

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Transcendentalism is a nineteenth-century movement in the Romantic tradition which held that individuals can reach truths through spiritual intuition.  In addition, it shared some of the tenets of Romanticism that imagination and emotion are superior to reason; a belief that contemplation of the natural world is a means of discovering truth behind reality, a distrust of industry and city life and an idealization of rural life and the wilderness; and an interest in the past and the supernatural.

NATURE

In his mock-epic, "Rip van Winkle" Washington Irving certainly evokes a reverence for the beauty of nature as he describes the magnificent Catskill Mountains as a place to which Rip seeks solace from Dame van Winkle , the voice of Reason.  There, in his "heroic quest" in which he carries a keg of liquor, Rip encounters a grand landscape, supernatural creatures, and mysterious happenings. 

IDEALIZATION OF RURAL LIFE

When Rip returns to his village, he finds it overpopulated with noisy, haranguing people; he retires to his "old walks and habits," finding some of his old "cronies" with which he can be comfortable.

A NOSTALGIA AND INTEREST IN THE PAST AND THE SUPERNATURAL

Certainly, Rip's experience in the mountains presents events that are outside the natural realm.  And, his nostalgia for the past is evinced in his retreat from the village inn.

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