Given circumstances are all of the information that the actor and reader have been given by the playwright in order to understand the world of the play. It refers to the specific conditions under which the action of the play operates. Much may often be given in the exposition. Other authors (Ibsen for instance) may dole the information out across the action of the play

Follow the format of example below and describe the given circumstances of the play. Be as complete as you can. Include the headings of this outline in your paper. Include research citations within the text and a bibliography of sources at the end.


Be sure to take into account any action in the play's dialogue that reveals incidents or action that took place BEFORE the current action of the play began. Sometimes this can be extensive and can be revealed across the action of the play. Tghis may take the form of a list if that's easier.



Date, year, season, time of day.

Note any significance about these things.

Physical Environment (geographic location, public or personal space): The specific area in which the play takes place including the climate, weather, geography, etc. (Can be described in "generic" terms such as "confined", "hot", "dark", chilly, etc., as well as specific details about the location given or inferred in the text and research.)

Economic Environment: The characters' relative wealth or poverty and the class of the characters in relationship to both the immediate and broader society in which they live.

Social Environment: The mores, folkways, and social institutions under which the characters live; their values and societal beliefs. This can be tiered: family, social group, sub-culture, nationality, etc.

Political Environment: The character's relationship to the form of government under which they live, both local and national. Also refers to the power structure and relationships in a family or other social group (such as a church).

Religious Environment: The formal or informal psychological controls placed upon a character or the beliefs that drive them to action because of their religious or ethical beliefs.


The way that the characters speak to each other and the situations they encounter all relate to the level of reality.  A play can be essentially real but have very heightened language and environment. Conversely, a play can also be based on non-realistic situations, such as dreams, paranoia, or other altered mental states. Plays can have multiple characteristics. For instance, the situation might be quite abstract (animals are speaking or there are ghosts) but the themes and emotions of the characters are very real. The level of reality can also change or drift throughout the play. Determining a precise level of reality can take some careful thought. Please use examples.

Edited 2-7-21

THETR 461:

Given Circumstances