What contrasting values do Rip and Dame Van Winkle represent in "Rip Van Winkle"?

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Dame Van Winkle represents the American values that are the antithesis of Rip Van Winkle's.

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To me, the two Van Winkle spouses represent opposing values with regard to material things.  Rip Van Winkle represents a philosophy that sees material things as less important than human relations and human contentedness.  Dame Van Winkle, by contrast, represents a more aggressive and materialistic view of the world.

Rip is content with his life.  He does not really care if his material goods are falling down around him.  He prefers to be well-liked.  His wife wants more and does not want what they have or could have to be squandered.

So, Dame Van Winkle is someone with Weber's protestant work ethic.  Rip belongs to a more laid-back school of thought.

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What contrasting sets of values does Dame Van Winkle represent?

Van Winkle's wife, Dame Van Winkle is described as cantankerous and a nag—however, these descriptions arise from Rip Van Winkle's own ideas. Dame Van Winkle is tenacious and hard-working, described as tireless and constantly working. She is a picture of the ideal Quaker—never at rest and always setting their hand to work.

The difference between Rip Van Winkle and his wife is focused upon at times in the text, and it gives a sort of exposition about the transition in the story. Rip Van Winkle is lazy and rather careless—hence his 20 year slumber—and is a picture of monarchist England, profiting from the labor of the colonies without doing the real work. Dame Van Winkle, on the other hand, represents the Americans who have succeeded in their revolution, hard-working and successful, even though, by the time the 20 years have passed, she is deceased.

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What contrasting sets of values does Dame Van Winkle represent?

Unlike her husband, Dame Van Winkle is a practical soul, who understands the value of a hard day's work. Ever the die-hard Puritan, Rip's wife passionately believes that not a single nanosecond of the day must be wasted. Everyone has been endowed with great responsibilities by the Almighty, and must use their God-given time wisely to serve their divine creator. However, the good-natured but indolent Rip just wants a quiet life, making him the constant object of his wife's withering scorn. Rip's home life—such as it is—is made an absolute misery by his wife constantly berating him for neglecting his duties as father, husband, and farmer.

Dame Van Winkle's strictures remind us that the Puritanical values she embodies are very much of this world. Protestantism in general, and Calvinism in particular, took the sacred and the holy away from special sites such as shrines, monasteries, and convents, and thrust them squarely into the heart of the hustling, bustling world of the town. Calvinism came to be associated with the development of capitalism, with its emphasis on the fruits of hard work and the accumulation of wealth. Not being the most worldly of individuals, Rip finds it hard to live in such a cut-and-thrust environment. It comes as no surprise, then, that he should wish to retreat from all the hustle and bustle and find repose in a simpler, less demanding world.

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What contrasting sets of values does Dame Van Winkle represent?

Dame Van Winkle seems to represent the Protestant work ethic popular among the Puritans rather than the Romantic notions of her husband. The Puritan work ethic demands hard work which Dame Van Winkle seems to want from her husband However, Rip had "an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor". He complained that he had the worst piece of property in the area because "His fences were continually falling to pieces; his cow would either go astray or get among the cabbages; weeds were sure to grow quicker in his fields than anywhere else." However, "his wife kept continually dinning in his ears about his idleness, his carelessness, and the ruin he was bringing on his family. Morning, noon, and night, her tongue was incessantly going. . ." Thus, the two of them never got along. All Rip would do was shrug " his shoulders, shook his head, cast up his eyes, but said nothing." 

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What contrasting sets of values does Dame Van Winkle represent?

Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" expresses a nostalgia for the "shadowy grandeurs" of the past and the imagination.  And, so, Van Winkle escapes the commonplace realities and moves to an imaginative region where the blue shadows over the valleys beckon him.  There in a shadowy glen, Van Winkle finds himself in a curious place where there are curious fellows.

Rip Van Winkle has left behind his termagant wife, Dame Van Winkle who acts as the voice of duty and responsibility.  For, he has an aversion to "all kinds of profitable labor,"especially labor on the farm,   He has preferred sitting at the small inn gossiping and whiling away the hours.  But, his wife, Dame Van Winkle works,

continually dinning in his ear about his idleness, his carelessness, and the ruin he was bringing upon his family.

Dame Van Winkle represents the values of the Puritan for hard work and diligence; however, she also prefigures for Rip the " bustling disputatious tone" of the people with whom Van Winkle comes into contact as he returns from his strange fantasy of having bowled with the small little men.  Gone are the pensive men who sit for long hours when Van Winkle was at the inn. Gone now are the magical, the marvelous, the imaginative, and the indolent, for it is a different Van Winkled who returns.

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