The Circle

The Circle Literary Elements


Science Fiction

Setting and Context

California, Modern Day

Narrator and Point of View

Third-person limited, following the protagonist Mae

Tone and Mood

The Circle is at once fantastical and darkly cynical. Eggers uses the two contrasting tones to create tension between Mae's intoxication with the Circle and the stressful and tragic events that surround the company's dangerous escalation of power.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist: Mae

Major Conflict

As the Circle proceeds toward Completion, some characters (Mercer, Kalden, and even Annie) attempt to warn Mae of the potential for the destruction of all humanity, while others (Eamon Bailey and her viewers) pull her further into the fold. Mae must decide what level of access to information is best for society and herself.


Mae's pursuit of Mercer during a Dream Friday presentation using the new technology SoulSearch drives him to suicide.


Mercer voices his forebodings about the dominance of and invasion of privacy caused by the Circle throughout the novel, and these very things end up causing his suicide as well as Annie's breakdown, Kalden/Ty's removal from office, and Mae's distancing from her family.




There are many allusions to Christianity in the novel, such as Kalden kissing Mae in the shape of a cross and calling the Circle's executives the Wise Men.


Eggers creates a rich picture of the Circle's campus through detailed exposition of its lush locations and varied characters.


More communication and transparency can hinder people's true understanding and connection.



Metonymy and Synecdoche