Rip Van Winkle

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Hendrick Hudson / the crew of the Half Moon Character Analysis

Hudson was a 17th century explorer of the New York metropolitan region, most famous for sailing up the Hudson river (which now takes his name). He was lost at sea after mutineers set him and several other members of his crew adrift. In the story, the spirit of he and his crew haunt the highest peaks of the Catskills. They lure Rip Van Winkle to the top of the mountain, where they play ninepins and provide Rip with a drink that keeps him asleep for 20 years.

Hendrick Hudson / the crew of the Half Moon Quotes in Rip Van Winkle

The Rip Van Winkle quotes below are all either spoken by Hendrick Hudson / the crew of the Half Moon or refer to Hendrick Hudson / the crew of the Half Moon . 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

On nearer approach, he was still more surprised at the singularity of the stranger’s appearance. He was a short, square-built old fellow, with thick bushy hair, and a grizzled beard. His dress was of the antique Dutch fashion—a cloth jerkin strapped around the waist—several pair of breeches, the outer one of ample volume, decorated with rows of buttons down the sides, and bunches at the knees.

Related Characters: Diedrich Knickerbocker (speaker), Rip Van Winkle , Hendrick Hudson / the crew of the Half Moon
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

Here we're introduced to the mysterious figure of a Dutchman (later revealed to be Henry Hudson, the famous explorer). The figure, we later deduce, is a ghost, haunting the wilderness area around Rip's town. Irving conveys the Dutchman's old-fashioned demeanor by describing his clothing and beard.

The Dutch occupy a small but important space in American history. Dutchmen were stationed on the east coast of America for a mere two generations, but during this time, they introduced an incredibly broad range of beloved American foods, activities, and names. New York, waffles, maple syrup, Santa Claus, Wall Street, and ice skating are all 18th century Dutch imports.

In short, the Dutch settlers in the U.S. were ghostly figures, at least from the perspective of their English successors: they were gone almost as soon as they'd arrived, leaving behind a strong yet ethereal legacy. It's entirely appropriate that Irving chooses the Dutch to be the ghosts in his short story--they represent the "vanished past" that Rip will quickly become a part of. (It should be noted that Hudson himself was English, but his explorations were on behalf of the Dutch East India Company.)


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It was determined, however, to take the opinion of old Peter Vanderdonk, who was seen slowly advancing up the road. He was a descendant of the historian of that name, who wrote one of the earliest accounts of the province. Peter was the most ancient inhabitant of the village, and well versed in all the wonderful events and traditions of the neighborhood. He recollected Rip at once, and corroborated his story in the most satisfactory manner. He assured the company that it was a fact, handed down from his ancestor the historian, that the Catskill Mountains had always been haunted by strange beings. That it was affirmed that the great Hendrick Hudson, the first discoverer of the river and country, kept a kind of vigil there every twenty years.

Related Characters: Diedrich Knickerbocker (speaker), Hendrick Hudson / the crew of the Half Moon , Peter Vanderdonk
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

In this long expository section, Irving gives us something of an explanation for Rip Van Winkle's misfortune. Peter Vanderdonk explains that Rip was bewitched and tricked by the spirits of departed Dutchmen--it's on account of Hendrick Hudson that Rip has fallen asleep for so long.

It's interesting that Vanderdonk seems to accept Rip's story almost immediately--Vanderdonk has heard a lot of information about Hudson's ghost, and trusts that Rip really has had an experience with the ghostly explorer. Irving isn't (here) concerned with historical plausibility; his goal is to convey the sense of the passage of time. Peter Vanderdonk's explanation is a necessary bit of information, but Irving doesn't linger on the details, except to show how blurry the line is between historical scholarship and local legend.

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Hendrick Hudson / the crew of the Half Moon Character Timeline in Rip Van Winkle

The timeline below shows where the character Hendrick Hudson / the crew of the Half Moon 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
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...from before his disappearance, and explains that the Catskill Mountains have long been haunted by Hendrick Hudson and the Half Moon crew. (Hudson was a Dutch explorer in the early 17th century... (full context)