Rip Van Winkle is a short story published in 1819 by Washington Irving. It focuses on the life of Rip and his family. The author brings out the fact that Rip is always scolded by his wife. As such, this has made him withdrawn and lonely. Despite the fact that his neighbors love him, more so the children, he has difficulties because his wife’s wrath is too much for him to handle. Throughout the book, it is clearly evident that women during this period were harsh and greatly victimized their male counterparts in the society.
Dame Van Winkle, Rip’s wife, is portrayed as a harsh and foul-mouthed woman who terrorized her husband. This is evident through the way that she treats Rip and his dog. Due to her victimization, Rip has to go away from the homestead in order to evade her continuous scolding. She victimizes him so much that one day while in the mountains, on his way back home, Rip chooses to go help out the person who was screaming instead of going home to be scolded. He ends up going into the mountains and remains there for a long time. Eventually, Dame Van Winkle dies before his return.
Dame Van Winkle’s death is of great significance. It marks the end of a reign of women victimizing men. This is because her death freed Rip of the fear that he always had about being scolded by his wife. Her death had brought this fear to an end.
The author’s message about the women in the 19th century is clear. The author depicts these women as ruthless and foul-mouthed to the extent of harassing their husbands. He also depicts them as the heads in their families. He depicts men as being the weaker gender at the hands of their women.