How does the fictional character of Rip Van Winkle contrast with the historical character of Benjamin Franklin, the self-made man?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. Rip is lazy; Benjamin Franklin worked tirelessly as a youth through adulthood to achieve personal, social, and political goals.

2. Rip allows himself to be tortured by a "termagant" wife, while Ben Franklin is a known womanizer. While this might not seem to have much to do with a "self-made" man, it truly is connected because a man in control of his own destiny would not allow himself to be henpecked daily.

3. Rip confines himself to his town and the closely surrounding areas. He does not seem to be interested in world affairs and appears to be unaffected by the Revolution's change in government. In contrast, Franklin is a man of the world who travels on behalf of the colonies and who enjoys international culture.

4. Finally, Rip is a Romantic--he relishes idyllic natural settings and literally dreams away his time. Franklin is a realist who pragmatically searches for ways to better himself and society.