Rip Van Winkle is henpecked husband who surrender to his wife. In the village, everyone are fond of him because he is insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor. After his wife blames him, he wanders with his dog, Wolf, into the Catskill mountains for some peace and quiet. They meet a group of strange characters playing nine-pins and drinking. He steal their brew as they are inattentive; finally, he fall asleep for twenty years. As he go back into the village, he is shocked to realize he no longer recognizes anyone and everything seem unfamiliar. His knowledge of current affairs and politics is sadly lacking. He establish his identity after being recognized by his daughter. After Rip explains his absence for twenty-year, the villagers allow Rip to return home with his daughter and live in peace.
In the beginning of the story, Van Winkle is a spineless husband who is fear to his wife. Besides, his dog is also afraid of his wife. This is symbol of domestic tyranny. Van Winkle "would have whistled life away" had it not been for his wife . This served as a foreshadow for what was to come. Van Winkle wanted peace and to be left alone. He pays no attention to his wife nor does he fight back, just as he did not fight in the war. He thinks of her as intolerable woman, like the colonists felt about the government.
Rip Van Winkle goes to sleep in a period when the colonies are ruled by England and awakes in a period of American Independence. As Rip enters the village he notices a number of differences and changes in the hometown, among them the tavern where he spent much of his time had greatly changed. "The changes of states and empires made but little impression on him," but he did displease the "petticoat government." It describes the government as if it were a woman. "Petticoat" are representation of Dame Van Winkle and American government. In this story reflect between domestic tyranny with national tyranny.
"Rip Van Winkle" also portrays the life of a town before and after "liberty. As Van Winkle comes back to his town, he can hardly recognize the town. He is confused as to who he actually is and loss his identity. "I'm not myself─ I’m somebody else─ that’s me yonder─ that that's somebody else, got into my shoes," he states . The town has changed Rip Van Winkle. Both Van Winkle and the town have transformed. This foreshadows that he has a new life. Twenty years ago he was known as a lazy man. He comes back after the Revolutionary War and Dame Van Winkle's death. The sign at the tavern in the Catskill village in which the story is set shows the image of George III; the next day the sign display General Washington. In the mysterious and supernatural interval, now he is also freed of the despotism of his wife, who has died: "Happily that was at an end--he had got his neck out of the yoke of matrimony, and could go in and out whenever he pleased without dreading the tyranny of his wife. For the war brought liberty and citizenship to the town, and the end of Dame Van Winkle also brought liberty to Rip. He was happy to be freed.