How does Rip Van Winkle contrast with "self-made man" Benjamin Franklin and where are these types found today?

Expert Answers
sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Benjamin Franklin - the self-made man - was ambitious, arrogant and successful.  He pursued life relentlessly and constantly challenged himself and the world around him.

Rip Van Winkle is the easy-going guy next door.  He does not achieve fame, nor does he seek materialistic wealth.  He wants to help others, but has little personal ambition.  He is just "one of the guys" and is well-liked.

The self-made man can be seen in the figures of such men and women as Donald Trump, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey.  The easy-going guy is harder to pinpoint, as he or she is not out to achieve fame and so is less known.  However, if you examine the demeanor of such actors as Jennifer Garner and Morgan Freeman, and political candidates such as Dennis Kucinich, you see some of the same personality that is found in Rip Van Winkle.