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Foreshadowing in Rip Van Winkle

Foreshadowing Examples in Rip Van Winkle:

Rip Van Winkle

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"these fairy mountains..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

This description of the Catskill mountains began with an appeal to the lived experiences of travelers who have seen them. To then describe them as “fairy mountains” removes them from that realm of lived experience and gives them an air of mystery and otherworldliness. While the mountains are a real place, they given over in this story to unreal forces, foreshadowing both the story’s function as a fairy tale and strangeness of the events it describes.

"the noise of the balls, which, whenever they were rolled, echoed along the mountains like rumbling peals of thunder..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

Ninepins is a game where nine pins are set up to be knocked down by a rolled ball. Its presence here confirms the origin of the mysterious sound that Rip mistakes as thunder. Also, note how seriously the strangers are playing what is supposed to be an amusing sport. There is something ominous going on here, something unnatural, and it is a clear sign that a foreboding event will occur.

"His dress was of the antique Dutch fashion..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

The stranger’s Dutch clothing is from the distant past and would be odd in a place that has been taken over by the English. This detail not only suggests that the man Rip encounters is out of the ordinary, but also that other extraordinary things are possible.

"a deep ravine, or rather cleft between lofty rocks..."   (Rip Van Winkle)

“Rip Van Winkle”’s rich visual descriptions of the Catskill Mountains draw from other works in the romantic tradition. For instance, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan” describes a “deep romantic chasm which slanted/Down the green hill,” the rapturous imagining of which causes ecstasy in the poet and confusion in his onlookers. Like the narrator of “Kubla Khan,” Rip experiences rich and wild natural beauty, and will find himself changed by his exposure to it.

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