Fiction: How important is the setting?

“The Fall of the House of Usher” is defined by its setting, which is like a framed portrait that hangs in the gallery of your imagination long after you’ve read the story. The portrait lacks color, which is deliberate because “The Fall of the House of Usher” is about death.  The landscape is “dark and foreboding.”  “Decayed trees,” “rank sedges,” and “vacant eye-like windows,” and the “fissure” across the home’s facade prophesy death to the hapless owner.  In short, the family of Usher is cursed.  Blood red is the only color mentioned in the story.

The setting prophecies the ending; and for this reason, I think the setting, not the plot or the protagonists, is the most important element in “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

I’m not implying that the setting should be the most important element in fiction.  I’m only suggesting that it can be.

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