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Setting analysis guide

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Karl Lee

on 5 May 2015

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Transcript of Setting analysis guide

Setting refers to the following:
The physical locations and weather of a story.
The historical/time period.
The society.
Elements that may be symbolic.
Detail 1 - Physical locations
Is the story set in a city, the suburbs, wealthy or poor area, a forest, jungle, island etc?

Is it summer, winter or does this change?

Is the story set mostly at night or day?

Is the story set in the real world or an imagined one?
2: Historical time period
A film may be set in the present day, but the story may also require a specific time period for its setting. It may be set in the ancient past, such as medieval times or the more recent past, such as the 1970s. A story may also be set in the near or far distant future, as most Sci-fi films are.
Detail 3 - The society
Society is more to do with the people of the setting. Is the society peaceful, or violent? Are they at war? Are they free or are they living under strict laws? Is it a liberal society or are people expected to conform? Is it wealthy or poor or a mix of both?
Detail 4 - Elements that may be symbolic
Quite often in films (and in other forms of literature) setting is also used to represent or symbolise character.
An easy way to do this is through the weather. If it is raining, the main character is probably sad. All elements of setting can help be symbolic, though, such as buildings, colour and how the setting is filmed
Example - Toy Story:
Physical settings are:
Sunnyside - Day care: wealthy, peaceful area. Seems like paradise, but actually becomes a terrible prison. These scenes take place at night.
Bonnie's house - actual paradise. Calm, gentle, loving setting.
The real world, but one where we accept that toys come to life when people aren't around.
Example - Batman Begins:
Physical settings are:
Gotham City - urban, mix of rich and poor, crime-ridden.
Batcave - underground (Wayne Manor), rock, dark.
A lot of the film takes place at night, and there is a lot of rain.
Though Gotham is a made up city, the film essentially takes place in the real world.
For example: Stand by Me
Takes place in the 1950s.

Music, costume and set design is used to create this time period.

The story is meant to be set in a simpler, more innocent time. The narrator is also looking back on his childhood, now that he is an adult.
For example: I Robot
Takes place in the near future.

High levels of technology.

Robots are sophisticated, some humanoid.

Mostly peaceful society.
For example: The Hobbit
The Shire society:

Hobbits are peaceful people.

A rural society.

Trusting society. Bilbo kind of keeps to himself.

The society of the Shire know little about the rest of the world.
For example: The Help
Society is 1950s USA:

Segregated, racist society.

Little social mobility. You either have money or don't. You're only really worth something if you have money.

Very confined roles for men and women. Sexist society.

Traditional, conformist society.
For example: Toy Story 3
Andy's room as a child and Bonnie's room
are settings that represent how Woody feels about being played with.

These scenes are always filmed with bright lighting and colours and happy sounding music always plays.
For example: V for Vendetta
This film is set in a near future London which is ruled by a dictator. The grey colours of the city and the tall buildings are like prison bars, which symbolises how the main character, Evey, feels trapped. Trapped by the government, but also by her own fear.
How to analyse setting:
You need to focus on several elements:

How the setting is described:
- What specific, physical details are described?
- What words and language features are used to describe the setting? What kinds of connotations does this have?
- How does the physical details and the language used to describe the setting help you understand the setting?
- How does it influence what you think about the setting?
What are the values of the society of the setting?
How much do the main characters agree with these values? How much do the values affect the characters?
How do the values of the setting change and how does this relate to theme?
Characters and setting: How do characters feel at the setting?
How does the setting influenec or contribute to a change in a character?
In what ways does the physical nature of the setting represent aspects of character?
Use this prezi to help guide
your analysis of setting.
Full transcript