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Setting Within Short Stories Essay, Research Paper

email: rs997@aol.comtitle: Setting within short storiesIn many short stories, authors use the literary technique of setting to add muchdetail and significance to the components of the story as well as give clear understanding to the reader. Setting is used as a major contribution to the story and its true meaning. In three highly regarded short stories, “Silent Snow, Secret Snow” by Conrad Aiken, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce, and “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe, setting is used as a major component in creating a vivid atmosphere that helps in understanding the mood and characters as well as interpreting the story. In Aiken s “Silent Snow, Secret Snow”, setting is used to aid in understanding the plot as well as the interpretation of the story. On the other hand, Bierce s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and Poe s “The Cask of Amontillado” aids in the composition of the mood as well as the atmosphere. In Aiken s story, setting is a very important factor in understanding the plot, themes, and the actions taken by the character. “Silent Snow, Secret Snow”, has a setting that is always changing. At first the setting is that of a classroom which is full of kids and is portrayed as the outside world. Next, the setting is that of Paul s journey back home. We are then told of the setting within his home in the living room with his family and the doctor. Lastly, at the conclusion of the story Paul is in his bedroom all by himself. Through these varieties of settings we learn that Paul is retreating back in life. He started off in the outside world which is displayed by the classroom. Next we see him walking back home, or returning to his world of childhood with his family. Then we see him in the living room with his family and the doctor which is also an act of defying ones self from the outside world. Basically, through the setting of the story, one can see that the plot revolves around the problems that Paul is facing and his urge to retreat in his own footsteps and seclude himself from all others, and he partially succeeds when we see him in his bedroom lying down all by himself. Poe s “The Cask of Amontillado” uses setting as an asset to create a dismal and sepulchral atmosphere which is used to clearly explain the mood and the character s actions within the story. This story revolves around its setting, mood, and atmosphere. First, the setting of the “The Cask of Amontillado” is that of a carnival. The carnival is a colorful festival that precedes Lent, the six-week period of self-denial observed by many Christians. The carnival was the place to encounter those that you ve always wanted to see. One day at conical season, the protagonist met his friend Fortunato. Fortunato was dressed in very typical carnival wear. “The man wore Motley. He had on a tight fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted be the conical cap and bells.” (Montresser 69) This particular setting creates a very light and delicate atmosphere. The mood also becomes happy and joyous. As a result of the setting, both the atmosphere and mood are effected. The setting then changes from the very joyous carnival scene to a insufferably damp vaults that everyone got along with. They are in these vaults to find Amontillado, a specific kind of wine. Fortunato also had a change in attire which caused the scene to become dull. He had on a mask of lack silk, and a knee- length cloak. The setting became even more detailed when we learned of the cobweb in the catacombs. The atmosphere became very placid and serene while the mood becomes very serious. This setting is present for the rest of the story, and the plot is resolved by the protagonist killing the antagonist, or Fortunato. The atmosphere and mood are directly changeable with the setting.

Bierce s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”is a short story in which the setting helps to create an atmosphere and mood that directly interact with the plot. This short story takes place during the Revolutionary War by the Owl Creek Bridge. The protagonist is tied to a rope above an enormous body of water and is surrounded by a group of soldiers. The protagonist, Farqhaur, is dreaming while they are preparing to kill him and he dreams that he is already dead and that he just saw his wife and family right before he died. This is not true, and right when he opens his eyes, he realizes that he is still alive. Within a few seconds, the rope is pulled and he is dropped into the water and killed. The setting creates a very serious mood throughout the story. Also the atmosphere is very dreary and sad. The idea of being hung on a rope and dreaming of his family is very understandable because he is about to lose his life. Within this short story setting is used to aid in creating an understandable atmosphere and mood. In conclusion, these three short stories use setting to portray the true meaning of the story as well as aid in strengthening other components of the story such as atmosphere or mood. As one can see, the three short stories mentioned above could not exist in the form they do without the use of the strong setting characteristics they portray.


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