What is the function of setting in literature?

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The primary function of setting in literature is to create a world in which a story takes place.

The setting can be in one place—and a very small place at that—or it can range widely over many different places, giving us a truly enormous world. Yet in both cases, we have a specific place where the relevant action takes place and where the characters live, move, and have their being.

Speaking of characters, setting is often used to reveal them by serving as an outward manifestation of their inner lives. Such an approach is often to be observed in the novels of Thomas Hardy, where so many characters have an intimate connection with their immediate landscape. As such, in learning about the rugged environment in which they live, we also learn a lot about the characters who inhabit this part of the world.

Setting can also give the reader a way into a story. If the description of the setting is sufficiently vivid or detailed, then we are much more likely to imagine ourselves right there in the middle of the action. And if that happens, then it is almost certain that we will become more engaged with the written material in front of us and want to read on.

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