Rip van Winkle is a humorous cautionary tale. I may have a slightly different take. I think it is about wasting away your life, and letting the world pass you by. So many people just go about their daily lives without really experiencing what the world has to offer.
With the beauty of the Catskills and the quaintness of the village before Rip's enchanted sleep, Washington Irving expresses his love of Nature and his nostalgia for a slower, less contentious time. When Rip van Winkle returns ot the village, he is met by a din of harangues. He remembers when people sat leisurely at the inn, not haggling about political issues.
I want to present another interpretation of the "point" behind "Rip Van Winkle": the glorification of setting. Rip Van Winkle has a very distinct setting: the Catskill Mountains. Take a look at the following excerpt:
When the weather is fair and settled they are clothes in blue and purple, and print their bold outlines on the clear evening sky; but...
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