Rip Van Winkle

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Dame Van Winkle Character Analysis

Rip Van Winkle’s wife is a sharp-tongued and nagging woman whose only role in the story is to antagonize and hound her lazy husband, who avoids all domestic duties. Though Dame Van Winkle’s unceasing harassment of her husband is mentioned frequently, she has no dialogue in the story and remains a kind of comical background force. She dies while Rip is asleep on the mountain, from “breaking a blood vessel in a fit of passion at a New England Peddler.”

Dame Van Winkle Quotes in Rip Van Winkle

The Rip Van Winkle quotes below are all either spoken by Dame Van Winkle or refer to Dame Van Winkle. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Tyranny vs. Freedom Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Rip Van Winkle published in 1999.
“Rip Van Winkle” Quotes

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, and everything he said or did was sure to produce a torrent of household eloquence. Rip had but one way of replying to all lectures of the kind, and that, by frequent use, had grown into a habit. He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, cast up his eyes, but said nothing.

Related Characters: Diedrich Knickerbocker (speaker), Rip Van Winkle , Dame Van Winkle
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

The final ingredient in Rip's life is his nagging wife. Rip's wife doesn't share his fondness for idleness and leisure--on the contrary, she wants Rip to work hard to support her and their child. Rip resents his wife's nagging, but not enough to lash out against her. Instead of yelling back, or actually changing his behavior, just Rip shrugs and says nothing.

Rip's actions (or rather, his lack of actions) signal to us that he's afraid to "rebel" against his wife's tyranny. Rip could be said to stand for the average American leading up to the time of the Revolutionary War--dissatisfied with English rule, but reluctant to do anything to upset it.


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Dame Van Winkle Character Timeline in Rip Van Winkle

The timeline below shows where the character Dame Van Winkle appears in Rip Van Winkle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
“Rip Van Winkle”
Tyranny vs. Freedom Theme Icon
Active vs. Passive Resistance Theme Icon
Truth, History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Labor vs. Productivity Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
...where a good-natured man named Rip Van Winkle lives. Rip’s greatest trouble is his wife, Dame Van Winkle , who is shrewish and constantly nagging Rip about hisbiggest weakness: that he can find... (full context)