The time and place in which circumstances surrounding a situation or event occurs. The setting includes time periods (1950s), location (Cuba), communities (Bronx), or worlds (sci-fi). Setting allows the exploration of characters and their surroundings in order to better understand them. "A setting may be simple or elaborate, used to create ambiance, lend credibility or realism, emphasize or accentuate, organize, or even distract the reader" (Endriga).
Myers states that "writers choose a particular setting because of traditional association with that setting that are closely related to the action of the story" (2118). For example, romance stories usually take place in exoctic locations. According to Singleton and Millet, setting is "the total environment" of the story (1198).
In Antigone by Sophocles, the location is Thebes near Athens in front of the great palace. The story unfolds over a 24-hour time period in 441 B.C.E. (Mitchell-Boyask 1). From this information, the tone of the story can be detected, and the setting plays a huge role in the story line.
In Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the setting is a little more complicated. Because the story is a reflection of another, the setting varies. The initial story is set on a boat at the mouth of the Thames River at sunset. The story that is told by the narrator is set in various parts of the African Congo.
In Olivet Twist by Charles Dickens, the setting is represented through the characters: "The first glimpse of the city Oliver sees is not even the city itself, but instead a product of the city in the form of 'The Artful Dodger' (Deutschendorf). The setting is the key to not only to forming the story, but forming the understanding of the story for the reader.
- Beardsley, Monroe C. Theme and Form. 3rd Ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall 1969.
- Deutschendorf, Brian. The Explicator 63.3 (2005): 146-150.
- Endriga, Kate. "All American: Glossary of Literary Terms." University of North Carolina at Pembroke. 14 Febuary 2006.
- Meyer, Michael. The Bedford Introduction to Liturature Reading, Thinking, and Writing. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin Press 1996.
- Millet, Stanton and Ralph H. Singleton, eds. An Introduction to Literature. Cleveland: The World Publishing Company 1966.
- Mitchell-Boyask, Robin. "Study Guide for Sophocles' Antigone." Temple University 2004. 14 February 2006.