He is just incapable of doing anything to help his own household.
He also is well-known for being an obedient, henpecked husband, for Dame Van Winkle has no problem shouting insults into the neighborhood and tracking him down in the village to berate him.
After consuming a strange drink, Rip falls asleep and doesn’t wake up for another twenty years.
During those twenty years, a war has come and left leaving the nation in a completely different atmosphere then when he left.
With these characteristics, Irving impacts the entire story and how the ending resolves.
In the story, Irving uses mainly Rip Van Winkle and Dame Van Winkle to show exaggeration in the characters.
His one companion in the household is his dog Wolf, who for no good reason is just as badly treated by the petticoat tyrant Dame Van Winkle.
On one trip to the woods, Van Winkle wanders to one of the highest points in the Catskills.
Most of his friends and family have gone or changed in some particular way.
Lastly, Irving uses setting to create an American mythology.