The setting of a novel has two dimensions: time and place. It sets the background or mood of a story. It is often very important to know where and when the story takes place before it influences choices and progression of the protagonist.

A story can be set in the past, with different ideas on society.  Social conventions change over time and things that are considered normal nowadays, might not have been so in the past. Women, for example, had far fewer rights than today, which might affect the female characters in thosenovels.

A story can also be set in the future or an alternative time. In this case it is important to follow the descriptions of events, buildings, objects and people carefully. For example, it is very important to understand in what kind of world we are in 1984 and Brave New World to understand the actions of the main characters.

Geographical place also has a strong influence on the actions of people. Geographical places can be influenced by culture, like in A Thousand Splendid Suns on the position of women in Afghanistan. Also, when the story takes place on an island, it limits the movement of a character like in Robinson Crusoe, Lord of the Flies, and Life of Pi. Places can also set the tone of story, like the moors in Wuthering Heights, which bring a sad, gloomy feeling to the novel, or the dilapidated state of London in Great Expectations. Place is a sense of things, a mode of thought, a way of seeing. Characters don’t enter or visit places by accident.


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