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The year is 1916. Women did not have many rights and were expected to stay at home and tend to their husband's needs. John Wright was in control of everything and did not allow his wife to have much of a social life. Before the play opens up, Glaspell sets the scene for the audience. "In the abandoned farmhouse of John Wright, a gloomy kitchen, and left without having been put in order, -..." (p.1006). The description given at the beginning of the play, establishes an atmosphere that will influence our judgment of Mrs. Wright. The gloomy, unkempt kitchen allows one to envision the uninviting place where Mrs. Wright spent her time. It is later mentioned that John Wright was a "hard man" and never showed too much expression. Glaspell's choices of words, "signs of incomplete work," suggest that there may have been problems within the marriage.
Dialogue is another way in which Glaspell establishes setting. Through conversation between characters, we can also develop an understanding of the situation. For example, the sheriff states, ."..I knew you could get back from Omaha by today..." (p.1001). His statement suggests that the story takes place somewhere in the Mid West, where winters can be cold and desolate. Further into the conversation between the Sheriff and the attorney, we also find out that John Wright has been murdered and that his wife has been arrested for the crime. The dialogue between the characters is important because it allows the reader to build up suspense and understand the mood of the story.
Lastly, Glaspell uses symbolism to characterize Mrs. Wright. Her use of symbolism can be used to understand what may have caused Mrs. Wright to murder her husband. For example, the Wrights' neighbors, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are at the scene of the crime.
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"The Use of Setting in a Play." 123HelpMe.com. 26 Feb 2020
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In conclusion, setting is a very important element when reading any literary work. Without setting, the reader will not be able to develop an understanding of the literature. Once the setting is established, the reader can then proceed to understand dialogue, symbolism and mood.