Setting and symbolism


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Slide presentation about setting and symbolism for ENG 2000

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Setting and symbolism

  1. 1. Setting and Symbolism
  2. 2. Setting <ul><li>Context of the story </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Time (time of day, time of year, time in history) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Place (climate, geographical place, physical space) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social environment (the culture) </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Setting <ul><li>Understanding the setting is crucial to understanding the meaning of the story </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, we need to know that socially and legally a wife would be subordinate to her husband and dependent on him, with a divorce considered a disgrace and difficult to obtain in order to fully understand the wife’s feelings in “The Hand” </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Setting <ul><li>Settings can help to create a mood for the story and can have symbolic value. For example in a short story by Raymond Carver about a couple whose marriage is collapsing, the chosen setting is a winter day as darkness is falling and the dirty snow is melting into rain </li></ul>
  5. 5. Setting <ul><li>In “Miss Brill” descriptions of the setting help to convey Miss Brill’s exuberant feelings as she goes to the park and also warn of a possible shift in mood. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ brilliantly fine—the blue sky powdered with gold.” “The air was motionless. . . But there was just a faint chill” </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Symbolism <ul><li>A symbol is anything that suggests a range of meanings in addition to its literal meaning. All of the following could be symbols </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Person </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Event </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Word </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Setting </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Conventional symbols <ul><li>A conventional symbol gets its meaning within a specific cultural context </li></ul><ul><ul><li>White symbolizes purity or innocence in Western culture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>White symbolizes death in many Asian cultures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A bird can be a symbol of freedom, a ring a symbol of marriage, a rose a symbol of love etc. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Literary symbols <ul><li>Writers of literature frequently use conventional symbols, but they may also use symbols that take on meanings only within their own story. For example in The Glass Menagerie a little glass unicorn comes to symbolize one of the main characters in the story. </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Hand--setting <ul><li>Setting is physically in the bedroom, which is appropriate for a story about marriage and newlyweds </li></ul><ul><li>The room is decorated in a fanciful way. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The light fixtures for example are a conch shell and a purple parasol </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This may symbolize the fairy-tale aspect of her whirlwind romance. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Setting continued <ul><li>The room is half-lit. (The bride does not see clearly.) Briefly when a car goes by its headlight fill the room with light, just at the moment when her husband appears potentially monstrous to her. This creates the suggestion that the wife is seeing a different reality that had been hidden from her. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Setting continued <ul><li>Everything in the setting is new—just as she has embarked on a new chapter in her life. </li></ul><ul><li>The curtains are blue in contrast to the pink ones in her childhood bedroom. She’s left childhood behind but only recently. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Symbols in “The Hand” <ul><li>The hand seems to symbolize the husband’s power and strength. Although he treats her gently and lovingly, she realizes that she has put herself in his power and theoretically he could harm her. </li></ul><ul><li>The descriptions in which his hand is compared to animals seem to symbolize her fears that he could become a kind of beast or monster </li></ul>
  13. 13. Symbols continued <ul><li>The pink varnish seems to symbolize a smooth attractive exterior, which she saw during the courtship but which could mask less pleasing qualities. </li></ul><ul><li>When she examines the hand closely she detects deformities. When people fall in love, the loved object seems perfect at first, but in time we notice flaws. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Setting in “Love in L.A.” <ul><li>Traffic jam below the freeway. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jake is stalled in life. He values freedom but is not as free as he thinks he is. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Los Angeles- Hollywood. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conventionally this is a city of hustlers, of people who dream of being rich and famous through show biz. Jake shares those dreams, but exaggerates when he claims to be a musician and actor. </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Setting “Love in L.A.” <ul><li>The details of the description are negative: gray concrete, smog. Traffic is in a “clot.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For Jake, these negative attributes are linked to being steadily employed; he hopes to escape them. But even though he drives off, he is still in his old car, still stuck in a confining reality. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Some questions related to symbolism/setting <ul><li>How can Jake and Mariana’s cars be seen to symbolize them? </li></ul><ul><li>Why is it appropriate that “Miss Brill” takes place at the start of winter and in the late afternoon? </li></ul><ul><li>How does setting “The Reprimand” as a phone conversation rather than in the breakroom with both speakers influence the encounter? </li></ul>