Analysing Setting and Its Impact

Understanding the Setting’s Time and Place

The setting of a narrative includes not only the physical location but also the time period and the social and cultural conditions. As you read, note down details about the time and place of the story. Consider how the historical period, geographical location and societal norms might affect the narrative.

For example, in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the story is set in Victorian England. This era, marked by strict social classes and moral expectations, greatly influences the characters’ actions and the plot’s progression.

Interpreting the Setting’s Influence

The setting can significantly influence the plot, character behaviour and mood of the text. Ask yourself how the setting impacts the story. Does it create conflict? Does it affect how characters behave or make decisions?

In The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the dystopian setting of Panem, with its oppressive government and stark social inequalities, directly influences the plot and shapes the characters’ actions and motivations.

Recognising the Symbolic or Thematic Significance of the Setting

Sometimes, the setting can have symbolic or thematic significance. Consider whether the setting symbolises anything or connects to the themes of the text. Does it represent a concept or idea? Does it reflect or contrast with the themes?

An example of this is the deserted island in Lord of the Flies by William Golding, which represents the absence of societal rules and order, reinforcing the theme of human savagery.

Analysing Descriptive Language

Authors use descriptive language to create vivid, immersive settings. Descriptive language can also evoke emotions and set the mood. 

In The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, the detailed descriptions of the Shire, Mirkwood, and the Lonely Mountain help readers visualise these places and feel immersed in the story.

Pay attention to the author’s descriptions of the setting. What sensory details (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste) are used? How do these descriptions make you feel?

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