What are the definitions of the four functions of setting (referential function, verisimilitude function, symbolic function, and analogical function) in literature?

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wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting of a story—more accurately called the mise-en-scene (literally “to take in the scene”)—includes not only the physical space in which the characters develop and “tell” the story, but also the historical period, the year, the time of year, the time of day, the weather, the ambience, the country, the rural or pastoral immediate scene, indoor or outdoors, the level of affluence, etc—every part of the physical universe in which the story unfolds.  The “referential function” is served when the author sets the story inside known historical/political events by “referring” to an incident or setting recognizable to the reader (the storming of the Bastille, for example).  The “verisimilitude function” is served when the author supplies details of the physical surroundings that give the reader a mental “picture” of the setting—cobblestone streets, gray, dingy walls of stone, etc.  The "symbolic function" is served when the author uses such figures of speech as synechdoche, personification, etc. to convey the scene as a symbolic representation of abstract conditions (a "sunless day”).  Close related but more abstract is the "analogical function," which is conveyed when the author uses the device called “paysage moralise”, the depiction of the scene as representing the mental or spiritual state of the character (in Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky describes Raskalnikov’s room as low-ceilinged, cracked, decrepit, etc. as a an analog to Raskalnikov’s spiritual state.) 

reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Referential Function - This gives the illusion of reality. This function is considered direct telling.

Verisimilitude Function - This function has mimetic qualities—that is, imitating the real world with spatial markers which can include geographical/topological references and place names. An example is Twain's, Huckleberry Finn.

Symbolic Function (sometimes called indirect showing) - The creation and building up of context and atmosphere. This function generally has a didactic message; that is, the setting conveys a message. An example would be Dickens' Bleak House.

Analogical Function - This function establishes a parallel between setting and character. An example here would be Eudora Welty's, Death of a Traveling Salesman.

Unbelievably, The Great Gatsby employs all the above functions!