What is the point of view and theme in "Rip Van Winkle"?

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The story is written in third person omniscient point of view.  The "omniscient" narrator isn't a character in the story of Rip Van Winkle, but comments on all the other characters and what those characters are thinking.  However, Washington Irving has created a character by creating the narrator.  The writing is supposed to have been done by Diedrich Knickerbocker, an American writer who passed away before this story was published.  In truth, Irving created the character of Knickerbocker to tell a few of his different stories, giving the writer a distinctive voice and making him seem like a pompous but distant observer of American life.

The theme of this story, Rip Van Winkle, relates to the new America, the America after the revolution.  The protagonist returns to the village to see a more active a busy populace, with the average man vocally engaged in politics.  But as he hears what these men have to say about their new leader, Van Winkle feels that not much has changed since the time of King George.  Irving suggests that politically changes do little to change the character of human beings.


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