Difference Between Plot and Setting

Main Difference – Plot vs Setting

Plot and setting are two important literary elements in any text. The main difference between plot and setting is that the plot is the series of events and happenings in the story whereas the setting is the backdrop of the story, characterized by the time and the place the story takes place.

What is Plot

The term plot refers to the sequence of events and happenings that compose the story. These events and happenings are related and affect each other throughout the story; the events take place according to pattern, and one event becomes the result or the cause of another. Plots can vary from simple structures to complicated interwoven structures.

A plot can be defined as the most important element in any piece of literary writing. There are five main parts or elements in the plot. They are exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

Exposition is the introduction of the story where main characters and the setting are introduced. The conflict or the main problem is introduced here as well.

Rising action begins with the conflict. It is the event that prompts the main character to go into motion and to take action. Rising action contains the build-up of events until the climax.

Climax is the turning point of the story; it is the part that creates the highest interest. The climax occurs when the conflict is at its peak.

Falling action consists of events that lead to the ending. The complications and problems begin to resolve in this part.

Resolution, also known as denouement marks the end of the story. In this part, the conflict is resolved and either the protagonist or the antagonist wins the conflict.Main Difference - Plot vs Setting

What is Setting

The setting in a literary work refers to the place and time the story takes place. It provides certain information about the geographical location, historical period, immediate surroundings, weather, and social conditions relevant to the story. The setting, along with plot, theme, character, and style, is one of the major literary elements of a story. It provides the background of the story and helps to create the mood.

Settings can be real or fictional, or a combination of the both. Some settings are very specific (Paris, 1852) whereas some are descriptive (lonely cabin on the mountain). Given below are some excerpts from famous literary works; note how the writers have established the setting of the story.

Example 1

PROLOGUE: Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

“Romeo and Juliet” – Shakespeare

Example 2

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.

“1984” – George Orwell

Difference Between Plot and Setting

Difference Between Plot and Setting


Plot is the sequence of events and happenings that make up of the story.

Setting is the time and place where the story takes place.


Plot describes, narrates the story.

Setting describes the backdrop and helps to create the mood.Difference Between Plot and Setting - infographic


Image Courtesy:

“Ludlow Castle” by Samuel Scott – qwFBatgn5W2a_w at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum, (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons

“Freytag’s pyramid” by BrokenSegue (assumed based on copyright claims).own work assumed (based on copyright claims). (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons

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