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

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The story is told from a third-person point-of-view by the fictive "historian" of the old Dutch in America, Diedrich Knickerbocker, but let's look a bit deeper at Irving's technique.

If we imagine the story filmed, with the narrator carrying a movie camera on his shoulder, we see that the adventure starts from afar. We begin with a sweeping view of the Catskill ("Kaatskill") mountains, then zoom in closer on a particular quaint village, and then on a particular man, the happy-go-lucky and hapless Rip van Winkle, as seen first from the point of view of his neighbors and then shown in general going about his typical business. It is not until several pages into the story that we focus in on a particular adventure concerning Rip. It begins here:

In a long ramble ... on a fine autumnal day, Rip had unconsciously scrambled to one of the highest parts of the Kaatskill mountains.

From now on, we will see the world through Rip's eyes, as told by the narrator. Now we are no longer perceiving...

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Mike Rosenbaum eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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