What is the atmosphere of a story? (with examples)

Charles McCarthy

The atmosphere of a story It is the place where the action of the story takes place and where the characters meet. It is the same as space in any narrative and lyrical literary genre such as the novel, the fable, the poem or the drama..

The environment is described by the narrator, whether he is an internal narrator of the story (such as the protagonists or a secondary character) or an external narrator.

The environment has the function of complementing the actions and characteristics that surround the characters (Educational Portal connecting neurons, 2017) so that we can get to know them better and help create empathy with them.

The story, because it is a short narrative text, tends to abbreviate the descriptions of the environment and the characters, although the reader manages to understand broadly the characteristics of the characters and the environment in which it takes place..

For its part, the novel being a longer narrative text allows the narrator to detail with more precision the characteristics of the environment, the temperament of the characters, emotions and sensations at a specific moment in history, etc..

It is worth pointing out that the environment needs to be accompanied by a temporality that contextualizes to know if it is an ancient or modern story, if it occurs during the day or at night, during a few days, at a certain season of the year, etc..

Story setting classes

The environment is the place where the story takes place; However, the place does not always have to be physical or material but can be of other types or a combination of these.

It is very important that the environment is related to the plot and the characters to give greater credibility to the story and to unite all the elements that intervene in the story.

There are three basic classes of environment that are not mutually exclusive. This means that the stories may have a predominant type of environment but it is almost always mixed with another to give a more complete and detailed overview of the synopsis and characters..

The types of environment are:

1- Physical environment

It is the place where the story unfolds and the characters converge. Usually these open or closed environments can look very real even if they don't exist in real life.

For example, a city, the country, the sea, etc. Again, the length of the narrative text allows the description of the physical environment to be extended or not..

To better understand this point, let's take the case of The three Little Pigs, ancient folk tale that comes from oral tradition.

The story begins by relating that the three little pigs lived in the open air and near the forest where a wolf lived that frequently threatened to eat them..

That is all the description they offer of the space and the receiver of the story must then imagine the details of an environment with those parameters.

Instead, in the short novel The little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the story takes place in different environments such as the Sahara desert, asteroids and other planets, but the description of the type of soil, the climate in each of them abounds, whether it is day or night, how far or close they were to planet Earth, etc..

2- Social or sociological environment

It is the social condition in which the action unfolds taking into account the cultural, economic, religious and social class level to which the characters in the narrative belong (Educational Portal connecting neurons, 2017).

Illustrating this situation, the tale Cinderella Adapted by Charles Perraut, it sets the story in a distant country where a beautiful girl with green eyes and blond hair lives with her despotic stepmother and whimsical stepsisters..

It is her responsibility to do all the household chores, she eats the leftovers that her stepsisters leave behind and is usually dirty, which is why they called her Cinderella.

In this story they do not describe what was inside the house, what city the house was in, how big the building was, but they do tell us that she is a tender and sweet girl who is exploited and subjected to bad conditions by her stepmother when They explain that she remained dirty, full of ashes, socially excluded and was the only one who did all the hard work at home.

3- Psychological environment

It is the spiritual atmosphere that surrounds the characters and the action (Educarchile.com, 2017). In other words, it is the emotional and intimate environment that the characters experience, the result of psychological approaches such as love, anger, revenge, fear, etc..

Horror stories play a lot with this type of environment to convey to the reader or listener the suspense, the feeling of fear and expectation, etc..

In the story The ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen, briefly describe that the events take place on a farm but extend a little more into the teasing that the other birds made to the Ugly Duckling, the sadness he felt, the rejection of everyone, his escapes from various places, abandonment, misunderstanding, longing to be a swan, etc..

From the previous case, we understand that the author emphasized the emotional picture that occurred inside the Ugly Duckling, more than in the physical environments where it was.

In the case of the novel The Lord of the rings, Frodo, one of the main characters, comes from a small, quiet and secluded region that cooperates in Frodo's temperament to be docile, kind, simple and serene.

In his mission to destroy the One Ring, Frodo must go through different places where he faces problems that are synchronized with his mood and emotions..

Finally, he arrives in Mordor, a dead place, full of evil and dangerous in which exhaustion and the harsh trials faced have definitively transformed the character's psyche..


  1. Department of Spanish Language and Literature. (4 of 7 of 2017). Characteristics of the novel. Retrieved from Wikispaces: wikispaces.com.
  2. Educarchile.com. (4 of 7 of 2017). Literature and literary genres. Obtained from Educarchile: educarchile.cl.
  3. Exupéry, A. D. (22 of 7 of 2017). The little Prince. Obtained from Agirre Gabiria: agirregabiria.net.
  4. Educational Portal connecting neurons. (22 of 7 of 2017). Environment or space in the narration. Obtained from Portad Educativo connecting neurons: portaleducativo.net.
  5. Tolkien, J. R. (1999). The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Madrid: Minotaur.

Yet No Comments