What elements of "Rip Van Winkle" are satirical?

What elements of "Rip Van Winkle" are satirical?

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A satire pokes fun at a problem to make a social comment, often through using exaggeration.

In "Rip Van Winkle ," Irving uses the character of Rip to satirize the lackadaisical, apathetic ways of the colonial American subjects living under the rule of George III and the British Empire. Rip is an exaggeratedly apathetic man who allows himself to be bullied, just as the colonists let themselves be bullied by George III. Rather than fight back, Rip wanders around the woods doing a little hunting or sits outside the local inn talking about old news. He's so out of it that he falls asleep for an...

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tanvychowdhury | Student

The role of the character as a non-descript, pen-hecked husband is the most obvious one. Rip is the Walter Mitty everyman of his age who finds solace from his wife's nagging first through drink, then through a comatosed wrinkle in time through which he somehow "escapes." The stereotype role models of men and women in society (and more particulary in marriage) are challenged in this farcical comedie de moeurs.The author also pokes fun at the radical changes in the political climate just prior to and after the American Revolution. Besides the changes in government,

‘‘The very character of the people seemed changed.’’ There is still a crowd gathered around the local inn, but now their conversation carries ‘‘a busy, bustling, disputatious tone about it, instead of the accustomed phlegm and drowsy tranquillity’’ ... In this new independent world, it appears, men must take notice of politics, if not by serving in the new government then by being informed and carrying on debate. 

Political activism is in the air, but the quality of life hasn't really changed for the better. Circumstances are radically different but everyday life remains basically the same:

Indeed, although he is no longer a subject but a free man, ‘‘the changes of states and empires made but little impression on him.’’

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