“Rip Van Winkle” is a short story written by Washington Irving. It was first published in 1819.
In this short story, the main protagonist, Rip Van Winkle, falls asleep during a walk in the mountains. This is before the American Revolution has taken place. However, Rip Van Winkle doesn’t wake up until after American independence has been achieved, which is very much to the reader’s and his own surprise. The overall message of the story is that life moves on, regardless of what happens to the individual. Everybody is replaceable, no one is so important that they are completely irreplaceable.
Rip Van Winkle is described as a fairly average citizen who is very popular among the people in his village. He gets along well with everybody, adults and children alike. However, the fact that he suddenly disappears for a substantial number of years does not stop the events around him from continuing. Therefore, the theme of this short story can clearly be seen as a warning: people should not become complacent and arrogant. It is important to always try to live life to the fullest, as otherwise, one might find that time simply passes by, just like it happened to Rip Van Winkle.