Does "Rip Van Winkle" symbolize the struggle between America (Rip) and England (Dame Van Winkle)?

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In the story, Dame Van Winkle represents colonial rule in America.

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Certainly, it is easy to reach the conclusion that Dame Van Winkle represents England, or at least colonial rule. His wife is domineering, nagging, and never tires of telling Rip how inept and lazy he is. In fact, it is to avoid Dame Van Winkle that Rip goes into the...

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countryside to take his fabled nap. In this sense, it might be easy to conclude that Irving imagines Dame Van Winkle as an overbearing wife, and it should be no surprise that when Rip awakes, he receives the news of his wife's death (from his daughter) as "a drop of comfort."

It becomes clear later in the story that the news of his wife's death was more welcome than the result of the American Revolution:

Rip...was no politician...there was one species of despotism under which he had long groaned, and that was...petticoat government. Happily that was at an end; he had got his neck out of the yoke of matrimony and could go in and out whenever he pleased, without dreading the tyranny of Dame Van Winkle.

Some critics have seen in this response Irving's own ambivalence toward women, others have noted that Mrs. Van Winkle is more of an avatar of the bustling, energetic period of Irving's own life than colonial rule, but there are certainly parallels between Dame Van Winkle and colonial rule.

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Is the point of "Rip Van Winkle" to depict a symbolic struggle between America (Rip) and England (wife)?

In Washington Irving's lightly satiric story, when Rip van Winkle returns from his long sleep, he learns that the American Revolution has taken place, and his wife has died:  Freedom has been achieved on two fronts. But, Irving writes,

There was as usual a crowd of folk about the door; but none that Rip recollected.  The very character of people seemed changed. There was a busy bustling disputatious tone about it, instead of the accustomed phlegm and drowsy tranquility.  He looked in vain for the sage Nicholaus Vedder...uttering clouds of toascco smoke instead of idle speeches.  or VanBummel the schoolmaster doling forth the contents of an ancient newspaper.  In place of these a lean bilious-looking fellow with his pockets full of handbills, was haranging vehemently about rights of citizens--elections--member of Congress--liberty--Bunker's hill--heroes of seventy-six,--and other words which were a perfect Babylonish jargon to the bewildered van Winkle.

As a Romantic writer, Irving conveys a tone of nostalgia along with his humorous inflated diction.  He satirizes his contemporary post-revolutionary society, which he suggests may be too argumentative, rationalist, and dogmatic. And, as a Romantic, he expresses a longing for the calm and natural beauty characteristic of the colonial village.  Indeed, the Revolution has changed everything for van Winkle.  There is even a hint of terror in this alteration as van Winkle, alienated from a changing world, encounters a different self:

'God knows,' exclaimed he, at his wit's end, 'I'm not myself.--I'm somebody else--that's me yonder--n--that's somebody else got into my shoes--everything's changed--and I'm changed--and I can't tell what's my name, or who I am!'

Perhaps, van Winkle does resemble the new nation that has now lost its old identity and is now in a poignant struggle much like Odysseus that seeks to be recognized.  However, this serious tone gives way to the folksy and leisurely narrative of the denouement as Rip van Winkle is happier in his reclaiming of his habitual position in society as "a venerable old man."

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Is the point of "Rip Van Winkle" to depict a symbolic struggle between America (Rip) and England (wife)?

I have never seen that particular comparison drawn.  I do not really think it works, because I do not see Rip's laziness and his lack of desire to get ahead as American traits.  I would not think that anyone would be likely to use a person with those traits to symbolize America.

I think that there are a couple things going on here, other than it just being a funny story.

I think it is supposed to be some sort of a commentary on the relations between the sexes.  Rip's relationship with his wife is that of the stereotypical henpecked husband.

The other thing is that Rip's nap overlaps the American Revolution.  Critics argue about whether Irving meant to show that the village had changed in fundamental ways because of the revolution.  Some say that there is more in the way of political discussions after the Revolution, while others say that Rip himself is apathetic, thus showing that the Revolution didn't really change anything.

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