Revision Guide: The Setting

Welcome to Part Five of our Revision Guide for IGCSE & GCSE English Language. In this guide we will look at the literary device of Setting.

What does the literary device Setting include?

  • Place

  • Time

  • Event

  • Weather

  • Social class or status


Place can be real or fictional

Time includes time of day, season & special times in history

Events includes wedding, holiday, birth, World Cup, journey, competition etc

Weather includes hot, stormy, cool, balmy, windy etc Social Class includes the social, economic & educational status of the setting.


Two main types of Setting

  1. Backdrop-The setting doesn't add any thing important to the text.

  2. Integral Setting-The setting is an integral/crucial part of the text.


Look at these different settings.

How do these places make you feel?

What connotations do they have?


Setting One

What effect does this setting have on you?


This setting probably had one or more of these effects on you:

Feeling a little spooky? mysterious? alone? small? vulnerable? intrigued? curious? afraid? moody? romantic? adventurous? crazy? brave?


Setting Two

What effect does this setting have on you?



This setting probably had one or more of these effects on you:

Feeling a little relaxed? calm? excited? adventurous? alone? lost?

The effect the setting has on you is important. Make a note of your feelings & find evidence from the text to support your feelings.


Why is the setting important?

  • The setting is a literary element which the writer uses to help create a successful & effective text.

  • The setting often directly relates to the all important theme of the work.

  • The setting has a huge impact on the effectiveness of the characters & plot.

  • The setting establishes the mood & atmosphere of the text.


How does the writer make the setting important, effective & memorable?

  • By using powerful images & words to describe it.

  • By embedding these images & words in literary techniques.

  • By using the setting to echo & reflect the thoughts, feelings & actions of the main characters.

  • By using personification & pathetic fallacy the setting can be (almost) transformed into a character.

  • By choosing a place or event name which reinforces the theme.

  • By changing & contrasting the settings.



A powerful image

"dazzling beach"

Lord of the Flies by William Golding


Connotations-bright, beautiful, heavenly & pristine.

But also enchanting, bewitching, too bright, blinding & dangerous.

What effect does this have on you, the reader?


Powerful images embedded in literary techniques

"Ralph stood there among the skull like coconuts with the green shadows from the palms & forest sliding over his skin."

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

"skull like coconuts" A disturbing simile comparing the life giving coconuts with skulls.


Connotations of death & darkness.

Alliteration-ssss the sound of a snake.

What effect does this have on you, the reader?


The setting to echo & reflect the actions & feelings of the main characters

"The storm came rattling over the Heights in full fury."

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

"Full fury" pathetic fallacy. The storm has the human emotion of fury. The storm reflects the anger & rage within one of the main characters, Heathcliffe. Both the character & the setting are raging.

What effect does this have on you, the reader?


Personification & pathetic fallacy (almost) transforming the setting into a character

"The face of the heath"

"face" personification, the setting has a human face.


"The gloom of the night seemed funereal; all nature seemed clothed in crepe."

The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

"gloom"pathetic fallacy, the night has the human emotion of feeling gloomy.

"clothed in crepe." personification, nature is wearing Victorian mourning clothes.

What effect does this have on you, the reader?


Place names

Soledad- from "Of Mice & Men"

Wuthering Heights- from "Wuthering Heights"

Bleak House- from "Bleak House"

Hanging Rock- from "Picnic at Hanging Rock"

Tom-All-Alone's- from "Bleak House

Llareggub- from "Under Milk Wood"

Wonderland- from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

What connotations do these place names have?



"It was difficult to realize that his work was not out there in the luminous estuary, but behind him, within the brooding gloom."

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Find the 2 contrasting settings mentioned in this extract.

What effect does this contrast have on you, the reader?


Thank you for reading.

Next time we shall look at characterization & the narrative voice.

Contact us if you have any questions or would like to book a revision lesson with us.

See you soon!


#LiteraryTerms #Revision #RevisionGuide

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