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Study of the Humor in Washington Irving’s Short Stories

2018-08-27 09:46:35

ABSTRACT

Washington Irving (1783-1859), representative of Romanticists, is the first American writer winning the international reputation. He is called as “Father of American Literature” and “Father of Short Story” for his great contribution to American literature. His masterpiece is Sketch Book, including essay, short stories and prose. Indeed, his writing was influenced by English literary tradition, and he conveyed much charm to foreigners through his novels by connecting with beautiful and ground American scenes. Poetic and peaceful scenery, fluent and fresh language, miraculous and fantastic story and mind and superb humor are prominent features in Washington Irving’s novels. This paper will study Washington Irving’s humor in his novels. 
Born in rich family, New York, Washington Irving enjoyed a good education. He loved literature very much though he studied Law during university time. Living in a developed city and influenced by Romanticism, he read a lot and travelled a lot, which shaped his character and provided much material for his writing. He was optimistic and casual in mind, pursuing free lifestyle and what he thought was wonderful or beautiful. He was addicted in beautiful legends and fantastic stories, and he transformed these into graceful prose or novels. Also he was a typical Romanticist, enjoying antique and history. This kind of character shaped his humor as mind and relaxed. 
Rip Van Winkle and Legend of Sleepy Hollow are most famous short stories in Sketch Book, and this paper will take a close look at humor in this two short stories. Humor is usually connectedly used with satire, because satire is useful when writers want to express a connotative idea about the society or the government. Of course, there are other themes. Great humor is not just making you laugh, but leading you to ponder over something deeper and profound. 
This paper is divided into six parts. The introduction gives an overview of background of this topic, theme, research methods and purposes. The first chapter introduces classic theory of humor and satire. The second chapter discusses Washington Irving as a humorist, analyzing how he became a humorist and main characteristics of his humor. The third chapter will talk about thematic satire in selected novels. The fourth chapter will study rhetoric skills of humor and their literary effect selected novels. Lastly, I will reclaim my conclusion in the last part. 

Keywords: Washington Irving, humor, satire, novels, Romanticism 


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