Why is a termagant wife considered a "tolerable blessing" in "Rip Van Winkle"?

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According to the narrator in "Rip Van Winkle," a "termagant wife" can be considered a "tolerable blessing" for Rip because it has given him a "meekness of spirit" that makes him popular with his neighbors. Rip's harsh, critical wife has helped him develop a compliant or easygoing personality, as well as one that is patient and long-suffering, able to tolerate a good deal of abuse.

Of course, Irving is being humorous in calling a critical, scolding wife a "tolerable blessing," as she is the kind of mate no man or woman would want. (We should keep in mind, however, how frustrated she might be at her husband's complete lack of initiative.)

Whether or not his wife is truly tolerable, we do know that Rip is popular with the neighboring wives, who often call on him to do small tasks for them. We know he is welcome company, too, to the men who sit around and talk over old news in front of the inn. Despite how he is treated at home, Rip does seem to be well-liked in the community for the qualities that the narrator suggests were formed by his wife.

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