What is your response to Irving’s characterization of Dame Van Winkle

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pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Dame Van Winkle (Dame is Dutch for Mrs.) is charaterized as a mean, controlling wife.  Through indirect characterizations we see that the Mrs. Van Winkle finds fault in the smallest things- including his lack of money and his lack on interest in her or their children.

Rip’s sole domestic adherent was his dog Wolf, who was as much henpecked as his master; for Dame Van Winkle regarded them as companions in idleness, and even looked upon Wolf with an evil eye,

After he naps for a bit, Irving suggests that Rip Van Winkle must get up and return home to the "terrors" of daily life.  The main terror seems to include his wife.

For some time Rip lay musing on this scene; evening was gradually advancing; the mountains began to throw their long blue shadows over the valleys; he saw that it would be dark long before he could reach the village, and he heaved a heavy sigh when he thought of encountering the terrors of Dame Van Winkle.

By describing both Rip and the wolf as henpecked, and by describing his wife as a terror, I believe Dame Van Winkle is characterized as a mean wife. When he awakens and realizes she is gone, he is free of her and her demanding ways.

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