Plateau as a Literary Setting: Examples from Classic and Modern Works


Plateau as a Literary Setting: Examples from Classic and Modern Works in Literature

When one thinks of literary settings, images of bustling cities, romantic countryside landscapes, or exotic faraway lands may come to mind. However, there is a distinct yet underrated setting that has been used in literature throughout history – the plateau. Defined as a flat elevated landform, plateaus offer a unique backdrop for storytelling, and have been utilized by many writers to convey specific themes and explore the complexities of the human experience. In this article, we will delve into the use of plateaus as a literary setting, examining its significance and impact in both classic and modern works of literature.

Historically, plateaus have often been portrayed as isolated and barren landscapes, with vast stretches of vast, unyielding terrain. In Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, the plateau of Ithaca serves as the main setting for the hero Odysseus’ journey back home after the Trojan War. The rugged, rocky terrain of the plateau represents the challenges and obstacles that Odysseus must overcome in order to return to his home and loved ones. The isolation of the plateau also highlights the loneliness and longing that Odysseus feels while separated from his family.

Similarly, in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, the bleak and desolate moorland plateau of Yorkshire is used to mirror the tumultuous and turbulent relationships between the characters. The rugged landscape, with its harsh weather and unforgiving terrain, reflects the characters’ intense emotions and the brutal nature of their interactions.

Moving into modern literature, the plateau continues to play a significant role as a setting, often used to symbolize the characters’ personal growth and self-discovery. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the plateau of Mordor serves as the climactic setting for the ultimate battle between good and evil. The barren, lifeless land represents the corruption and darkness that has taken over the once beautiful realm of Middle-earth. It is also where the main character, Frodo, confronts his inner struggles and comes to terms with the burden he must bear in order to save his world.

In Virginia Woolf’s classic novel To the Lighthouse, the Scottish plateau of Skye serves as a catalyst for the characters’ reflections and introspection. As they journey across the plateau, they are forced to confront their past, their desires, and their relationships with one another. The vast, open landscape mirrors the mental and emotional space they must traverse in order to achieve self-awareness and acceptance.

Furthermore, the plateau as a setting is not limited to just works of fiction. Non-fiction books, such as Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, use the concept of plateaus to explore themes of determination, endurance, and the limits of human ability. The plateau of Mount Everest serves as the ultimate test for the characters, both physically and mentally, as they navigate through treacherous terrain and face life-threatening challenges.

In conclusion, the use of plateaus as a literary setting is a powerful and effective tool in literature. It serves as a visual representation of the characters’ internal struggles, highlights their growth and development, and adds depth and complexity to the overall narrative. From classic works to modern literature, the plateau continues to be a significant and relevant setting, showcasing its versatility and impact in storytelling. So, the next time you pick up a book and encounter a plateau as a setting, take a moment to appreciate its subtle yet profound contribution to the narrative.