Faraway Worlds and the Familiar: Characters and Setting in Ursula Le Guin's The World for World for Forest
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Faraway Worlds and the Familiar invites a closer examination of the impact of worldbuilding and setting on character portrayal in science fiction narratives, using the case study of The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin. The thesis reviews the main factors that make up the worldbuilding in the science fiction genre, and emphasises the significance of their interconnection and contribution to the narrative. The speculative nature and the plausibility of the narrative are also considered, and the thesis looks at the manner in which worldbuilding is made realistic even if the created world consists largely of unfamiliar elements. Through close reading, it focuses on the novel’s main characters and their relation to their setting, arguing that setting plays a prominent role in shaping their actions, reactions and interactions. Each character experiences their surroundings differently, which influences their characterisation and narration. Finally, the reader’s experience of the novel is touched on, and the potential of the novel to engage with its readers is discussed by considering the extent the novel can reflect reality. Using Le Guin’s construction of setting as an example, this thesis argues that The Word for World is Forest illustrates the connection between character and setting, and encourages a reconsideration of their interrelatedness.