What are some figures of speech in "Rip Van Winkle"?

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Irving uses personification to establish a sense of connection with the mountains, writing that "they will gather a hood of gray vapors about their summits," as if they are human beings putting on clothing.

He also uses juxtaposition, the literary device of placing two ideas or images near each other to establish a comparison or contrast. He does this when he writes:

A termagant wife may, therefore, in some respects, be considered a tolerable blessing.

A termagant wife is one who scolds and bullies; in suggesting this as a blessing, Irving has put two opposing idea together. In doing so, he creates an aphorism, a short, witty statement that contains a truth. Irving's statement is a fresher way of saying every cloud has a silver lining, which means that no  matter how bad circumstances are, you can always find some good in them. He also uses alliteration, with the "t" in "termagant" and "tolerable" highlighting those two important words.

Early on, Irving describes the Catskills ("Kaatskill[s]," as he spells them) as "fairy mountains." This foreshadows their important function later in the story as a magical place where Rip will fall under a spell that puts him to sleep for twenty years. 

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In "Rip van Winkle," Washington Irving employs

  • personification as he describes the Katsill Mountains as "clothed in blue and purple" and they "print their bold outlines on the clearn evening skiy"
  • simile as the last rays of the setting sun "glow and light up like a crown of glory."
  • metaphor as Rip's temper is "rendered plain ant malleable in the fiery furnace of domestic tribulation,....at the hands of "a termagant" wife.)
  • simile as Rip van Winkle's children are described, "His children too were as ragged and wild as if they belonged to nobody. His son Rip, "was generally seen trooping like a colt at this mother's heels, equipped in a pair of his father's castoff galligaskins, when he had much ado to hold up with the one hand, as a fine lady does her train in bad weather."
  • metaphor as Rip provokes a "fresh volley from his wife, so that he was fain to draw off his forces and take to the outside of the house..."
  • metaphor as Rip's dog "sneaked about with a gallows air" (like someone condemned to be hanged).
  • metaphor as "a sharp tongue is the only edged tool athat grows keener with constant use."  Another metaphor compares a hot summer day to a "Long lazy summer's day."
  • personification as Rip expels "angry puffs" from his pipe, but when he is pleased he emits "light and placid clouds."  Rip looks over the "lordly Hudson" river.  In the evening "the mountains began to throw their long blue shadows over the valleys.."
  • simile Rip hears the noise of balls "which, whenever they were rolled, echoes along the mountains like rumbling peals of thunder."
  • metaphor as there is "a drop of comfort at least in the intelligence."  Rip had "got his neck out of the yoke of matrimony" and away from the "petticoat government."

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