What are three ironic elements in Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Irving uses verbal irony in the story. Verbal irony occurs when a statement means the opposite of what it literally states. Irving pokes fun at the do-nothing men who sit in front of the inn, reading old newspapers:

But it would have been worth any statesman’s money to have heard the profound discussions that sometimes took place when by chance an old newspaper fell into their hands from some passing traveller. ... how sagely they would deliberate upon public events some months after they had taken place.

Of course, what the passage above really means is that it was pointless and silly to spend time discussing old news. There is nothing either profound or sage in what these men are doing, as what they are doing can make no difference in the world.

Situational irony occurs when circumstances work out differently from a character's beliefs or expectations about them. When Rip wakes up from his long sleep, he misinterprets what has occurred:

As he rose to walk, he found himself stiff in the...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 903 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team