The story of Rip Van Winkle is classified as a German folktale. It contains numerous elements such as a journey of going 20 years into the future. The use of supernatural, the truth to the unknown, and various encounters made with the townspeople. This story also portrays Rip as a hero at the end. Nevertheless, since the tale displays all these characteristics of what a folk tale is, it is therefore a prominent example of one. A folktale is a term for all types of narrative literature found in oral traditions of the world. They are heard and remembered, and are subjected to various alterations in the course of retelling. Nevertheless, an essential trait of folktales is their diffusion, and their passage from one generation to another, by word of mouth. .
Rip Van Winkle is described as a good-natured, lazy man. Years passed and his wife, Dame Van Winkle always got angry and frustrated because Rip never took care of their farm. She became bad-tempered and quarrelsome toward him at times. Poor Rip was at last reduced to despair, and his only alternative was to escape from the labor of the farm and his wife. This was the start of his long, endless journey to a mysterious future.
Two of the elements in folklore is the use of supernatural and journey. Rip went on a adventure up the Kaatskill Mountains. The adventure consisted of some unusual happenings especially meeting up with the supernatural. The first element of a folktale, journey, ties in the second element, the supernatural. Irving displayed this when Rip met up with a ghost. The images of Henry Hudson's crew displayed this. Rip and a stranger met up with the crew while they were playing nine-pin. He began to drink with all of them and by the time he realized what was going on he quickly passed out. .
He woke up twenty years later. Another object of the supernatural that Irving showed in his writing is how he slept for exactly twenty years.