It's A Wonderful Life in the Catskills


"He entered the house, which, to tell the truth, Dame Van Winkle had always kept in neat order. It was empty, forlorn, and apparently abandoned. This desolateness overcame all his connubial fears---he called loudly for his wife and children---the lonely chambers rang for a moment with his voice, and then all again was silence." - Washington Irving "Rip Van Winkle"

In class last week for American Literature 1800-1915, I discovered a very interesting comparison between the story of "Rip Van Winkle" and another very popular work, It's A Wonderful Life. You don't see the connection, hmm? Well then, let's take a look, shall we?

In the story "Rip Van Winkle," Rip does not like to do his own work, but then he avoids the wrath of his wife, and, to say it bluntly, runs away, gets drunk and passes out in the woods. When he wakes up, it is twenty years later, and Rip gets a taste of what life was like without him, seeing the effects of the American Revolution on his home and community. 

In the movie, It's A Wonderful Life, the main character, George, thinks that there is no point to his life and contemplates suicide. Then, an angel, Clarence, takes him through the lives of others and shows him exactly what things would be like without him around.

See the resemblance now??  I certainly do.

Okay, that was not exactly the most formal, but I just felt that that needed to be pointed out.  Until the next post, ladies and gentlemen!


Wow you are good! I see the similarity, men running away from their problems. Rip and George are men with problems that see no way out other than running away.

True, ladies, but besides being a fight or flight response, it is perfectly natural for anyone, man or woman, to "run" when faced with such tumultuous events in one's life. When everything a person knows to be good and right and fair is upended, sometimes running is the equivalent of shutting down, but in movies and literature, there would be a lot of dead space if people just collapsed and shut down. This running gives them a place they are from and a place they are going to, so it adds options for the story as well.

This is a very interesting comparison. I never thought of the book this story this way before. I have never seen that movie so that is probably why I didn't see this comparison right away.

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This page contains a single entry by Alexi J. Swank published on September 7, 2010 11:13 PM.

Happily NEVER After is the next entry in this blog.

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