Is the story "Rip Van Winkle" by Washington Irving an allegory?
In the strictest sense in which the word is used, most readers would probably not feel allegory is the most fitting term to describe "Rip van Winkle." Generally we would expect characters and setting to more specifically represent other people and places, or concepts, than we see in Irving's story. For example, Nathaniel Hawthorne's stories are often obvious allegories of good and evil, and his characters tend to be abstractions of specific human traits or of human nature in general. In addition, a moral is usually found as the basis for an allegory. Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" and "Ethan Brand" are both allegories of man's capacity for self-destruction through his systematic denial of the human feelings we should all cultivate.
Irving's stories, including "Rip van Winkle," are far more casual in tone and purpose. Nevertheless, it is still possible to find meaning beneath the surface, so to speak, in the tale of a man who has slept for twenty years and awakened to a transformed world....
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