Latitude and Its Impact on Character Development in Literature


Latitude refers to the geographical location of a place on Earth, measured in degrees from the equator. While it may seem like a mundane aspect of nature, latitude plays a significant role in molding characters and driving the narrative in works of literature.

In literature, the setting and environment are crucial elements that shape a character’s development. The placement of a character’s journey at a specific latitude can have a profound impact on their actions, thoughts, and overall growth. Here’s how latitude influences character development in literature.

Firstly, the climate and weather conditions at a particular latitude can have a significant impact on a character’s personality and behavior. Take, for example, the novel “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London. The protagonist, Buck, starts his journey in a comfortable and warm home in California. But as he is taken to the harsh and unforgiving climate of the Yukon Territory, his natural instincts and survival skills are awakened. The harsh conditions of the North ultimately shape him into a fierce and resilient dog, mirroring the rugged wilderness. The varying latitudes in which Buck travels play a crucial role in his transformation from a domesticated pet to a wild and untamed animal.

Similarly, in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” the setting of the story in the rural and temperate countryside of England is instrumental in the character development of Elizabeth Bennet. Growing up in a less formal and more relaxed environment, she becomes a free-spirited and independent woman. On the other hand, her love interest, Mr. Darcy, who hails from the bustling city of London, is more reserved and cautious in his actions. The contrast in their character traits can be attributed to the different latitudes in which they were brought up.

Moreover, latitude also affects the social and cultural norms of a place, which in turn influences a character’s beliefs and values. For instance, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” the story is set in the prosperous and fast-paced city of New York during the 1920s. The characters in the novel are obsessed with wealth, glamour, and social status, reflecting the societal norms prevalent in that latitude. The protagonist, Jay Gatsby, is a prime example of how the lavish lifestyle of New York’s elite can lead to destructive and reckless behavior. Thus, the latitude of New York City plays a crucial role in shaping Gatsby’s character and actions.

In addition to character development, latitude also creates a sense of place and atmosphere in literary works. The different latitudes in which a story takes place can evoke distinct moods and emotions in readers. For example, a story set in the warm and tropical latitude of Hawaii may elicit a sense of relaxation and tranquility in readers, while a story set in the cold and harsh latitude of the Arctic may instill a feeling of isolation and danger. These varying latitudes set the stage for the story and contribute to the overall impact on readers.

In conclusion, latitude is a vital but often overlooked element in literature that can significantly impact character development. The climate, weather, social norms, and overall atmosphere of a place at a specific latitude can shape a character’s personality, actions, and beliefs. Writers can use this geographical aspect to add depth and complexity to their characters and drive the narrative forward. As readers, understanding the influence of latitude can help us better appreciate and analyze the characters and their journeys in literature.