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Understanding the Definition and Function of Setting in Literature


In literature, the setting is the time and place in which a story occurs. It provides the backdrop against which characters interact and events unfold, contributing to the mood, atmosphere, and context of the narrative. The setting can influence characters' behaviors and decisions, and it often plays a crucial role in shaping the plot and themes of the story.

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What is the definition of 'Setting' in literature?

Setting is the time and place in which the action of narrative is set. In short stories, poetry, novels, and non-fiction, setting is generally created by description whereas in drama setting is usually established by stage directions and dialogue.

Setting in fiction is one of the five elements (Plot, Character, Point of View, Theme, and Setting), In addition to establishing the background in which the action takes place, setting can also create mood or emotional atmosphere.

Edgar Allan Poe makes great use of setting for creating an emotional atmosphere. For instance, in his story "The Fall of the House of Usher," the family mansion is a Gothic setting of a decaying mansion helps to underscore the decadence and disease within the Usher family itself. In another story of Poe's, "The Cask of Amontillado," the setting of the catacombs creates an eeriness and the suggestion of death that relates to the narrator's plot to kill another man.
Historical settings play important roles in narratives. In A Tale of Two Cities, for instance, the two settings of Paris and London play important roles in the plot that deals with the French Revolution as action pertinent to this upheaval takes place in Paris, actions involving aristocrats and peasants. other actions that connect to Paris are in the setting of London.

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What is the function of setting in literature?

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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What is "setting" in literature?

John Donne famously declared "no man is an island." By this he meant people live in and are influenced by their communities. Likewise, one could also say "no story is an island." Stories exist in a definite place and time in history. Even if the story is fictional, its characters have been influenced by a number of factors, and we cannot understand the story unless we understand those influences.

In literature, these influences are collectively known as the story's "setting." Specific elements of the setting include geography, which describes where the story happens; historical period, which tells when the story happens; and culture, which explains a number of things, including how the characters relate to one another and what they believe about life (and the afterlife). These elements help readers understand why events transpire and characters behave as they do.

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