Ecocriticism

Is the environment something you consider when you read a work of fiction?

The human sensory perception of the natural environment and setting is incredibly effective in a work of fiction. Vivid and stylistic language used in the description of sight, smell, sounds, touch, and taste, can transport the reader into the text. The setting can prepare readers for the development of following scenes, dramatic intensification, and symbolic doubling (Modern Criticism and Theory, 2008, pg668).

I find environment is one of the most fascinating features of a text, as it allows the reader to create impressions of setting from their own memory and senses through language and descriptions. Setting can serve to fill in the gaps of the narrative itself, through cultural, social, psychological knowledge and awareness. Certain environments will arouse different instincts, feelings, and is host to different inhabitants (Darwin, Evolution of Species). The writer does not need to explain the cultural setting, as the environment itself is the background.

Examples:

Into the Wild (film)

246 He looks up from his book. A gentle breeze tickles morning flowers. The sunlight dances in a coppice of aspen and leaves of trees above. The sound of buzzing flies mutes. He is taking one last look at his paradise.

Wuthering Heights

“My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath a source of little visible delight, but necessary.” (9.101)

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