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7.6 Setting as a symbol

3 min readfebruary 13, 2023

Sylvia Rodriguez

Sylvia Rodriguez


AP English Literature 📚

145 resources
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Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent ideas, qualities, or events. Symbols often take the form of words, images, or gestures that carry complex and multiple meanings.
Setting is a powerful symbol used in literature to convey a range of meanings. It can refer to a physical location such as a city or country, a particular time period, or a specific environment that reflects the story's mood and conveys the values and beliefs of its characters. It can also be used to draw attention to themes, create atmosphere, and provide insight into character motivations.

Setting as a Symbol in Literature

One of the most famous examples of setting as a symbol is in William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, in which the city of Verona and its surrounding area represent the feuding families and their quarrels. In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, the town of Maycomb symbolizes the racial injustice and prejudice of the Deep South. In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the icy, desolate setting of the Arctic symbolizes the alienation and despair of the creature.
Setting can be used to create atmosphere, foreshadow elements of the plot, and provide insight into characters' motivations and behavior. In Romeo and Juliet, the feuding families of Verona represent the obstacles the two young lovers must overcome to be together. In To Kill a Mockingbird, the oppressive heat of Maycomb reflects the racial tension and fear in the town. The Arctic setting of Frankenstein symbolizes the creature's alienation from both society and his creator.
The setting of a work of literature can also be symbolic of a larger theme or message. In Romeo and Juliet, the feuding between the two families is symbolic of the destructive power of hatred and prejudice. In To Kill a Mockingbird, the oppressive heat of Maycomb is symbolic of the injustice and inequality of the Jim Crow laws. In Frankenstein, the icy setting of the Arctic is symbolic of the creature's despair and loneliness in a world that does not accept him.

Setting as a Symbol in AP English Literature and Composition

The AP English Literature and Composition Exam is designed to test a student’s knowledge of literature and composition. This exam includes a variety of passages that require students to answer questions about the text. One of the objectives of the exam is to identify how authors use setting as a symbol to communicate a deeper meaning. In order to successfully identify setting as a symbol, students must have a deep understanding of the text and the context of the passage.
When studying for the AP English Literature and Composition Exam, it is important to be aware of the various ways that authors use setting as a symbol. Setting can be used to provide clues to a character’s thoughts and feelings, to provide background information, and to create atmosphere and mood. Setting can also be used to foreshadow events, to represent themes, and to symbolize ideas. In order to recognize setting as a symbol on the AP English Literature and Composition Exam, students must pay close attention to the details of the passage. Students should look for clues in the descriptions of the setting, such as the time of day, the weather, the type of landscape, and any other elements that might provide clues to the underlying meaning of the passage. Students should also pay attention to the words that the author uses to describe the setting and how those words might be connected to the main themes of the passage.

Conclusion

The impact of setting as a symbol in literature is immense. Setting can provide readers with insight into a character’s thoughts and feelings, as well as their motivations and actions. Setting can also be used to portray themes and to provide clues to the deeper meaning of a text. By recognizing the use of setting as a symbol, students have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of a text and to gain insight into the author’s intent.

In conclusion, setting is an important element of literature and can be used as a symbol to communicate deeper meanings. On the AP English Literature and Composition Exam, it is important for students to recognize the use of setting as a symbol in order to answer questions accurately
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