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Notes on Setting

Setting refers to the natural and manufactured scenery or environment in a story. Setting can also refer to the objects the characters use, their clothing, locale, or time period including historical events.

Uses of setting:

  • To lend realism (verisimilitude)
  • To reveal theme
  • As symbol of statement
  • To organize work (time, space, structure)
  • To create mood or expectations for reader
  • To emphasize irony
  • To infer cultural expectations or limitations for characters

When writing about setting, don’t merely build a catalogue. Use critical thinking to reflect on how the setting impacts the plot, the characters or the theme of the work. Consider what information beyond the text of the work could be needed to understand the work more fully.

Sample Thesis Statements for writing about Setting:

The symbolic use of colors, numbers and décor in “The Masque of the Red Death” infer that regardless of prosperity, prestige, or even precautions taken, death is still inevitable for all people.

Gloomy atmosphere, a frighteningly personified house, and the entombment of the Ushers in “The Fall of the House of User” reveal the universal truth that only complete annihilation is an appropriate response to an evil as great as incest.

Public demand, Media profit, and Governmental complicity all work to create, then inevitably destroy a National Hero in “The Greatest Man in the World.”

Shirley Jackson’s symbolic use of the old Vermont manor, the cottage, and the garden reveal that personal despair and turmoil result from a longing for personal freedom in the face of social oppression. –“Flower Garden”

The old manor, the quaint cottage and the beautiful garden in “Flower Garden” are used to symbolically depict life, growth, and freedom vs. repression.

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