How did "Rip Van Winkle" reflect the current situation in society and politics?
Wandering away from his nagging wife, Rip Van Winkle falls under a spell and sleeps for 20-odd years. As a result, when he returns to his village in the Catskills, he has no idea that the American Revolution has taken place. By showing how completely out of touch Rip is with the current political situation, the story highlights the changes in politics and society that have occurred in a relatively short time. Rip gets himself into trouble for professing loyalty to King George III, who was, in fact, his monarch when he fell asleep. He has to get used to the idea that it's George Washington's picture, rather than the king's, hanging in public places. Further, the election day debates in the story reflect American citizens' groping for self-definition as they tried to determine what being a Republic (still a radical idea at the time, when most countries were monarchies) meant and what kind of country they were supposed to become. The near rioting on election day mirrored behavior that was not uncommon in early 19th century America, reflecting the social and political reality of a new country's growing pains.