They are represented througha sexist point of view in which the men’s downfall are attributed to women notbeing passive and supportive not matter what their husband may do. However, in order to discussthe way women are portrayed in Washington Irving’s writings it is necessary topoint out that we have in hands an unreliable narrator. Although it is possibleto know the thoughts of characters and to understand what they really think andwhat motivates them in literature, with this narrator that is not possible andwe are left as if we were listening to someone telling a story just like inreal life. The story is narrated by a semi-omniscient narrator that judges andtakes conclusions about the characters. He analyzes their actions and explains themwith his opinion.
What is frustrating since Washington Irving’s writings arecharacter-driven. Irving hands us an undependablenarrator that analysis his history, settings ad characters as we, the real-lifereader, analyze ours. We know neither the real thoughts nor the intentions ofthese people. How can we judge a character’s development through the eyes of asuspicious narrator? Yet that is what wedo in society, we listen to some facts and we attribute a character judgmentout of what we think that personality is rather than what it really is. What we know about Rip Van Winkleis that he is well regarded by his community, avoids any profitable work and likesto do anybody’s business except his own. What is strange is that all of his flaws are considered his wife’s faultand according to the narrator, this flaws even make him three times moreblessed that other men.
According to the narrator there are”good wives” and there are wives like Dame Van Winkle (bad), the adjectives hecalls her are always negative and they “force” her husband to escape to thewoods. But what is a good wife? In the book “Women’s role in Seventeenth-CenturyAmerica” by Merril D. Smith, she states: