This GCSE English Literature quiz questions you on setting in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Setting in a literary text firstly consists of the location and the time in which the events take place. It is easy to forget that texts can have several settings, since events might occur in very different places or times. Buildings and spaces are also separate settings within the wider setting. Background events, even when these are merely mentioned by characters, are an important part of a text’s setting, as are political and social issues. This wider fictional world is referred to as context (but be careful not to confuse this context within the text with the author’s real-life context). Atmosphere, another key element of setting, usually changes multiple times in a text.
Setting in a play differs somewhat from that in a novel. Watching different versions of the play gives a sense for the many ways in which setting can be interpreted. As you read the text, consider how well you are able to visualise the setting. What effects do you notice?
Beyond time and place, The Crucible has few specific details about its setting. We know the types of rooms in which the acts take place and have a few indications as to the type of furniture present. More interesting is that the stage directions specify the type of windows and lighting involved. Many of the physical settings give a sense of entrapment.
The change of seasons is one aspect of setting, as is weather, although a less predictable, more temporary condition. A text’s setting also includes geographical elements such as region, country, environment, landscapes and buildings. Pay attention to the interaction of characters with their environment: how does this interaction affect the text?
One useful exercise is to compare the era in which a text is set with when it was written. In the case of Miller’s play, the date for the setting is determined by real events. Beyond this fixed point, however, are there any similarities between the setting and Miller’s own time?
Answer the questions below on setting in The Crucible.
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