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Setting in "Remains of the Day" and "Her First Ball"

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Introduction

In literature we consider setting to be an extremely important factor as it connects time and place. By altering any of these two aspects, a determined culture can change completely because it is impossible to divorce a culture from the geographical place or time. Literary characters are directly affected by the time and the place in which they live, as setting implies the limits that society sets on a character, or/and the limits that the character sets on itself. The settings in "The Remains of the Day" presents two different periods in the life of Stevens, the main character. The novel is based in 1950's England, at Darlington Hall and in the places Stevens visits during his trip, with continuous flashbacks set in the 1930's in Darlington Hall. From this novel, we can present a detailed analysis of how setting is important as it is clear for the reader that the behaviour of the characters have been affected by the time and place in which they live. Also the events and the story depend on the settings which provide the reader a cultural context of the period in which the novel is based. The main place of the novel is Darlington Hall, which is described as pleasing and as a great spectacle, always surprising the visitors during the 1930's. ...read more.

Middle

For Stevens, time was always better during the days in which Lord Darlington lived. Stevens is constantly reminding the reader that before World War II, Darlington Hall was in its best days, while now it doesn't have a good staff. This represents the loss of power of the British aristocracy and also the wasted life of Stevens. Here we have an excellent contrast of the setting itself that shows the relationship of how Stevens considered his place of work to be great when Lord Darlington lived and now that he is gone the staff is inefficient. This is a metaphor that shows how time and "setting" has weakened the British Empire. Setting in the novel allows the reader to compare and understand the actions of Miss Kenton and Stevens. Miss Kenton is a woman who is very dedicated to her work, but she does not have the obsessive thinking of Stevens. We can say that Miss Kenton knows more about life than Stevens as she has changed her placed of work and routines. Inside Darlington Hall, Kenton's parlour is used by Kenton and Stevens as a place to talk, drink tea and relax, while Stevens' room is dark and always looks the same. Miss Kenton tries to change this by bringing flowers but Stevens prefers the serious and repetitive environment because he is used to it. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is shown to us on the way to the ball where they all take everything lightly even though they were all nervous, just to look cool they tried acting indifferent. On the other side Leila was extremely excited about everything and didn't want to hide any of her feelings. However because of the setting, she was at the dance and later on she gets corrupted and becomes like all of the other city people because she felt she did not fit in so she became like them. This shows the influence that settings have in characters and the change in moods and attitudes that settings can cause in them. This analysis leaves us with the conclusion that settings play a fundamental function in literature, especially in the cases that we have studied, being "The Remains of the Day" and "Her First Ball" two clear examples of how place and time affect the characters and the events. Settings can also provide contrasts and symbolisms to support an idea. Stories in literature depend on settings as a different season or age or a different place could change completely the way on which the characters think and act. We have analysed how Stevens' repressed personality has been directly affected by the working environment and the years in which he lived, and how characters in "Her First Ball" act depending on the settings in which they are. Email: Question: Why is setting so important in literature? ...read more.

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