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Horses in a field on a misty morning
One of the settings in DNA is a field.

DNA - Setting

This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at setting in DNA by Dennis Kelly. Setting refers to the time and the location in which a piece of fiction takes place. As in life, the events in most texts usually take place in several different settings, as well as in various locations and times. Within a text, these individual settings include natural features, buildings, vehicles and other spaces. Atmosphere, another aspect of setting, also changes multiple times over the course of a fictional work. A useful exercise to try when analysing a piece of literature is to contrast the various settings of a text.

Events, whether these occur as part of the plot, or take place in the background, provide another crucial element to a text’s setting, with social and political issues often playing an important role.

In DNA we can imagine the events taking place off-stage, being familiar with the cycle of news reports which takes place whenever a young person goes unexpectedly missing and is later presumed dead. The audience’s imagination adds to the mood and atmosphere of this play.

Setting in DNA is somewhat vague. Each act cycles through three different settings, a street, a field, a wood, and back to a field. The only exception to this structure is Act Four, which is curtailed after two scenes: the street and the field. It is worth thinking about why the play ends in this way after following a strict pattern in the other acts. Leah’s departure disrupts this established pattern. Do you think that anything will change? What does the future hold for this group of young people?

DNA is tied by very few details to a specific time and place, allowing the play to speak more broadly to questions of violence and the desire to protect the group at the expense of the individual.

Answer the questions below on setting in DNA.

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1.
PHIL: Lou, Danny and Jan you take the shoes, Lou you put them on, and you enter the woods from the south entrance
CATHY: Which one's south?
MARK: By the Asda

What effect is created by the use of geographical markers here?
The geographical markers create a strong sense of place
The geographical markers allow the audience to imagine the scene more vividly
The use of geographical markers creates the impression of a military-style manoeuvre being planned
The use of geographical markers emphasises Phil's poor sense of direction
Phil plans the group's laying of a false trail in such detail that it almost seems as if he has considered before how he would carry out a crime. The military precision of the operation also emphasises Phil's leadership qualities
2.
Where does Leah intend to go when she turns up with a suitcase to tell Phil she's running away?
Scotland
New York
London
She does not know where she is going
Leah's main focus is on getting "away". She tells Phil that the universe is a much bigger place than where they are located. Her words imply that she wishes to escape their situation as much as she wishes to escape the place: "It's a big world, Phil, a lot bigger than you, it's a lot bigger than you and me, a lot bigger than all this, these people, sitting here, a lot bigger, a lot lot bigger"
3.
Where do Phil's and Leah's scenes take place?
A Street
A Field
A Wood
A House
Scenes between Leah and Phil take place in A Field. The featureless nature of these settings emphasises the universality of the play's themes
4.
When is the play set?
1980s
2000s
In the future
The time of the play is unspecified
The drama takes place in a self-contained world with very little reference to specifics of time or place. This technique creates the sense that the play deals with timeless issues
5.
Where is DNA set?
In a large city
In a rural village
In the suburbs
Anywhere in the UK
The geographical setting of the play is vague, with little mention of details which might specify a location. The characters' dialogue is clearly British, using words such as "postman", "head" for headteacher, "motorway" and "jumper", as well as making reference to Asda
6.
Scenes where the majority of the characters gather and decide on a plan of action take place in A Wood. What is significant about this setting?
The wood represents an open, public environment
The wood represents hope and growth
The wood represents a dark, more private environment
The wood represents escape from fears
The setting of the wood is most appropriate to the group's plotting, especially since it offers protection from adult eyes
7.
A Field. PHIL and LEAH, sitting

Complete silence.


How do these stage directions in the final scene of Act Three differ from previous scenes set in A Field?
Phil is sitting
Phil is eating
The silence is "complete"
There are no differences from previous scenes
For the first time, Leah is not speaking, nor about to speak. The "complete silence" signals a change in the relationship between the pair
8.
Where do Jan's and Mark's scenes take place?
A Street
A Field
A Wood
A Post Office
Each Act opens with a scene between Jan and Mark, set in A Street. Their dialogue in these scenes performs the function of a chorus, setting out essential information for the audience
9.
BRIAN: D'you ever feel like the trees are watching you?

What do the trees represent to Brian?
His guilt
Unknown threatening forces
The possibility that his lies will be discovered
All of the above
Brian perceives the trees as onlookers who are aware of the crushing guilt he feels. They might also represent threats to his safety: it was in the woods where Adam was left for dead and where Phil threatens to subject Brian to the same treatment
10.
Which of the following is correct of authority figures in the play?
Adult figures of authority are entirely lacking in the play
Adult figures of authority have an impact on events without having any on-stage roles to play
Adults are present in the play, although they have no authority over the characters
Adult authority features heavily in the play; characters are always concerned about appeasing adults
Some adults, most notably the police, are represented as authority figures who can affect the characters' futures. For the most part, however, adults are presented as easily manipulated, distant figures
Author:  Sheri Smith

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