The Driving Force Of Setting Essay, Research Paper
The setting of a work of fiction establishes its historical, geological, and physical location. Where and when the story takes place influences interpretations of the story s events and characters. Setting may be vital to a story, influencing character s behavior, as it does in Charlotte Perkins Gilman s The Yellow Wallpaper and as in Kate Chopin s The Storm. In both of these stories, the setting is the most critical motif. It is the driving force upon how the stories are moved along by its influence over the character s actions.
In Kate Chopin s The Storm, the setting of the first scene symbolically hints that something just isn t right. The air is thick with a humid heat and there are somber clouds rolling in from the west. The air is still, and in the distance there can be heard a sullen, threatening roar. A storm is on the way, and establishes a solid barrier between Calixta and her husband. The somber clouds rolling in from the west represent not only the storm, but also Alc e Laballi re, a friend of Calixta s who is ridding through the area. The sullen, threatening roar is representative of Calixta s marriage and how it is being threatened by her affair that is on the horizon.
Scene two depicts Calista at home sewing. The humid heat is causing her to break out in sweat, and at first she does not notice the storm is coming. By the same token, she is also unaware that Alc e Laballi re is on his way. When she finally comes to her senses, she goes outside to get the clothes off the clothesline and she sees Alc e. The moment is a bit awkward because she had to unfasten a few buttons on her shirt because it was so hot, and she was sweating, and also because in the past she and Alc e had some kind of relationship before she had married Bobin t. The setting of the of the story places both of these characters in the wrong place at the wrong time, with just the right mix of emotions and situations for something to happen that shouldn t. Alc e is forced to come into the house when the rain begins falling very violently, and the wind blows it onto the porch. As he is helping Calixta to block the flood of water from seeping under the door, they experience an intimate moment, lost in each other s eyes. That was the final event that set up the affair. In the isolation presented to them by the raging storm outside, and that there was no one for miles around, the two make passionate love. The setting was the driving force of the story that lead to the affair. All the right circumstances were in play, and the storm itself acted as a shield to the outside world from Calixta s affair.
The setting in Charlotte Parkins Gilman s The Yellow Wallpaper drives the main character, referred to in the first person, insane. The story starts out with the narrator, and her husband. They are staying in a colonial mansion for the summer. John feels that this is a good place for his wife to get some rest, and once they arrive he tells her that she needs to. He forbids her from going outside, or doing any form of work because as a physician, he feels that this is the best treatment for her temporary nervous depression.
The narrator keeps a diary despite that John tells her not to do anything. She describes that it takes a lot out of her because she has to be so sly about it. Being tired all the time, with the fact that she wants to get out and get some fresh air, and also knowing that she cannot begins to have a negative effect on her, an effect that John does not foresee. She begins to start noticing the every detail of the room, particularly the wallpaper. The wallpaper is an ugly yellowish hue that has dark and light spots sporadically located all along the wall. It has a crack in it that encompasses the whole room, except there is a break in it where the bed is. The room is in the upper most room of the house, but not quite the attic. The narrator is confined to this room charged with resting and remaining inactive.
Slowly, but surely, the situation that the narrator has been placed into slowly drives her insane. She becomes fixated on the wallpaper, and notices all the many different shapes and patterns along it. This fixation leads to her having visions. At first, she has a vision that the wallpaper is moving. She comes to that conclusion while trying to study the wallpaper, she finds herself unable to retrace the steps she has made in trying to figure out what the patterns means. She wakes up one night and believes that she sees the wallpaper shake. In her delusion, she thinks that she can make out the figure of a woman trapped inside the wallpaper trying to shake it to break free. This delusion is a symbolic reference to the way that she feels. She feels trapped and restrained in this room, and she herself wants to break free. At this point in her insanity, she has lost it. She starts stripping off the wallpaper trying to free the woman trapped inside it. She begins to take the role of the woman in the wallpaper, and starts creeping around the perimeter of the room. The setting that she has been placed in literally drove the narrator crazy. The extensive time she spent in that room along with the room itself, and that John was not listening to her when she was trying to tell him what really is good for her all were factors that drove her to insanity.
In both of these stories, the setting is the driving force that places characters in the right/wrong situations at the right/wrong time. This placement of events and time in such a synchronized way allow for the stories to be played out, and their inevitable endings to immerge. Setting in these two stories is the driving factor that set up the story, and led it to its own end.