The setting of a novel or play often plays a big role in the overall telling of the story. The setting can be used to exemplify parts of the characters or cause the turmoil the characters must overcome in order to reach a happy ending. Essays on setting, usually five paragraphs, explore how the setting of one piece or many pieces plays this intricate role in the overall theme of the work.
State your overall theme. This needs to be clear in your mind before you begin writing the essay. It could be how the setting drove the character mad, how the setting added romance to the situation or in a comparison essay, how one setting had one effect and a second had another. In comparison essays, you are often forecasting how things could be different for a person given a different set of circumstances or setting.
Write your introduction. This grabs the reader's attention by stating the theme and giving a brief glimpse of the theory to come in the subsequent paragraphs. For setting essays, this often offers a bit of a unique take on the surroundings of the characters, one the reader might not have thought of on his own.
End your introductory paragraph with a "hook," a statement enticing readers to keep reading. Most of the time, it leaves the reader with a "how is the author going to get there" kind of feeling.
Write the body of the essay one paragraph at a time. Each of the three body pieces should contain a specific statement regarding your overall theme and then a few sentences proving that statement.
Conclude the essay to tie together all of your points and reiterate your theme. The conclusion brings together how the setting so deeply affects the story and leaves the reader convinced your theme is accurate.
- You can take a typical five-paragraph structure and increase the length as required for a class or assignment. Simply make the first body paragraph about one topic and offer other paragraphs to support it and continue doing so throughout until you have built the proper length.
- Choose a novel or play in which the setting definitely matters. In a comparison essay, go for stark contrast such as choosing something set in the South by Mark Twain and something urban. This helps to make a strong theme argument.
- Setting arguments can be particularly strong if the setting has a different effect on different characters, such as those of differing races or ethnicities. A person who is in a new and interesting country learning to get by makes a unique setting themed essay.
- Do not go too big with your theme. If you are doing a five-paragraph essay, focus on just a few characters and portions of the story. You will not have enough time to cover how the setting affects each person in the piece.
- Do not overuse quotes to prove your point. The essay needs to contain more of your original words than the words of the author of the piece you are analyzing.
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