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Rip Van Winkle


The concept of time is one of the most miscellaneous and controversial concepts in the current stage of the investigation. This concept may be interpreted and reflected in different ways. It is significant to mention such famous samples of interpretation of the concept of time as masterpieces by classic writers Bulgakov and Kafka. The currently analyzed work “Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving is also a noteworthy piece for the interpretation and explication of the concept of time and temporality within literature. The chosen theme for discussion is as follows: the construction of the past, present, and future and an individual’s relationship to it. The canvas presented by the author provides a vast space and relevant material for such an analysis and its subsequent discussion.


It is significant to underline that the concept of time is often presented on the current stage of investigation as a notion regarded in spatial terms. It is essential as far as the consequent indication of spatial metaphor gives a clue to comprehension of the cognitive system as a common frame for the interpretation of the concepts of both space and time.

The explication and discussion of the concept of time and its representation in the text begin at the moment of awaking. It is a crucial point, a culmination of the whole story in terms of analysis of the aforementioned concepts. This point connects the past and the future of the character. It may be regarded as the embodiment of the present for Rip Van Winkle as far as it was the point of revelation and insight.

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The author emphasizes the duration of the process of awaking by the continuous form of the verb as well as a detailed description of the surrounding picture. The emphasis is also put on the period of time the character awakes. It is morning. Irving also underlines that the morning is bright and sunny. The picture is quite complete and vivid due to the details, but the author adds more certainty of comprehension for the reader and states that Rip Van Winkle awakes in the same place where he has seen an old man for the first time. This address to the initial experience and locality quite vividly and properly reveals the common grounds in terms of the cognitive system concerning the spatial and temporal concepts. The unity of these concepts creates an effect of absolute explicit vision of the event described by the author.

One more sufficient implicit element of the passage concerns the phenomenon of time conception by the character and its actual fluency. It is a significant dilemma illustrated by a certain sequence of events. Every human being has a personal sense of temporal fluency. This sense is considered to be a relative one as far as the accurate record of time is represented by the clock activity. However, the general concept of time fluency is also a relative and rather abstract notion. In order to comprehend the essence of this miscellaneous conception, it is necessary to realize that the process of counting time has been established by human beings and for human beings. Therefore, it is hardly an objective phenomenon as far as it is counted according to the rules which have been established artificially and furthermore – according to somebody’s opinion and vision. Hence, even time may be regarded as a subjectively perceived phenomenon. This dilemma is brilliantly illustrated by the adventure of Rip Van Winkle. The relative and quite subjective notion of time is presented as even more subjective by the difference between reality and personal conception.

Furthermore, the author tries to frame the concept of time. It is evident from such phrases as, for instance, “all night”, etc. Not only the duration of certain temporal characteristic is underlined by the author, but he also emphasizes the attention of readers to the fact that this period of time is finite, and its borders are clearly set as well as quite known for the character as far as he uses it in the course of thinking. Such details present the concept of time as the one that is quite distinctly and thoroughly framed, defined, and perceived. Actually, it may be regarded as a dramatic controversy to the previous aspects of analysis as far as it revealed the abstract and relative essence of the concept of time. Moreover, it was also previously stated that the phenomenon of time is beyond the line of human understanding and perception,  though the dilemma that is presented in the course of discussion may be considered quite logical and easy to comprehend as far as controversy is an undeniable and even compulsory aspect of the time conception. These allegedly opposite and miscellaneous aspects the analysis tends to reveal should be regarded as diversity of dimensions the concept of time is represented. Hence, it is apparent that there is a vast space for further analysis and explication.

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Furthermore, it is essential to underline the author’s distinct and obvious subdivision of the phenomenon of time in the life of Rip Van Winkle. This subdivision presents part of his life before the event that is thoroughly described by Irving in the story and after his awaking. The author often represents this subdivision by direct usage of words “before” and “after”. This direction refers to the past of Rip Van Winkle and his future correspondingly. The moment of revelation of unexpected truth and strange reality may be subsequently referred to as the present of the character. Hence, there is a vivid, proper, and consistent representation of every embodiment of the concept of time. Moreover, every embodiment is directly and certainly related to the character and his life. It is also crucial to emphasize that these embodiments of the past, the present, and the future are closely connected as well as inter-influential on each other.

The author also presents an incredibly vivid and well composed sequence of events from the past of the character. Rip Van Winkle remembers all the milestones of the previous – allegedly previous – evening. These milestones comprise people as well as places. Irving makes just short and sharp retrospectives to them in such a way that they resemble flashes. Moreover, these flashes of the character’s memory form a timeline of his past. Hence, the concept of time and its diverse representations demonstrates one more dimension for further investigation and subsequent analysis.


The process of explication of a separate passage of the story by Irving in terms of the analysis of such significant and miscellaneous concepts as time and temporality in the literary work reveals certain controversies and diversity of interpretation. Thus, the concept of time is embodied in three frames – the past, the present, and the future of the character Rip Van Winkle. They are interrelated as well as apparently related to the character himself and tend to present a common cognitive system within the spatial terms.