Elements of Fiction in Rip Van Winkle

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Dana Leonard Professor Green ENG 356 16 September 2012 Elements of Fiction In any good story, the author employs certain literary elements which grab the imaginations and thoughts of those who read it and informs the central theme of the work. Successful authors such as Washington Irving use these elements exactingly to fashion a story that conveys a certain perception of life events, or a specific theme. In his short story "Rip Van Winkle", Irving concentrated on the theme of younger citizens becoming agents of change, while still holding to deep-rooted morals and standards instilled in them by their families, as revealed through the effective use of the literary elements of setting, symbolism, and characterization. Irving's flair for fashioning an inventive setting, or period and place wherein a tale occurs (Gardner), lets the readers effectively concentrate on his story. It takes place in the 1770s in the Catskill Mountains and begins prior to the American Revolution; however, when Rip awakens, he finds himself in the middle of the Revolution (Charters). The setting changes, being twenty years later, after Rip awakens; many changes have taken place, but many things have remained. When he approaches the village, no one looks familiar and everyone is dressed differently than he has ever seen. He realizes the village has grown and changed seemingly overnight; there were many new homes, but, sadly, his own is vacant and in great disrepair. However, he sees the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains beyond the village and realizes it is certainly the same place, but many changes have taken place due to the American Revolution. To create this setting, Irving effectively uses the reader’s senses; when he describes the weather and bricks, he creates a visual image for the reader; he draws more on the senses when he brings in sounds like birds twittering

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