Tone & Mood


Interpretive fiction presents the reader with significant insights into life and into human nature. Such truths take a greater hold when they are conveyed through our feelings as well as through our intellect.

* Identifying the tone or mood is often an important clue to help the reader discover literary themes.

* Considering how a writer creates a certain tone or mood helps the reader appreciate the author's style.

Tone = Style or Manner of expression in speech or writing .

The Dictionary of Literary Terms by Martin Gray (Longman/York Press,
1996, ISBN 0-582-08037-1) gives the following for tone:

"…Tone is thus a critical concept which implies that literature is like speech, requiring a speaker and a listener, tone being the attitude adopted by the speaker to the listener ---the author's attitude toward the work, events, characters, or the reader/audience -- , gathered and understood from the kind of syntax and vocabulary used. For the full understanding of a work it is essential to recognize its tone or range of tones, however difficult that may be, especially for non-native speakers of English.

Irony, for example, in which an author does not mean what he or she says, may pass unnoticed, if the tone of a passage is misunderstood."

Mood = Atmosphere , State of mind .

"The Dictionary of Literary Terms" gives for Mood:

Mood (OE 'mind, feeling' from ON 'anger') A term used synonymously with atmosphere to indicate in a literary work the prevailing feeling or frame of mind, especially at the start of a play, poem or novel, creating a sense of expectation about what is to follow.

Some Adjectives to Describe :

  1. Tone : Formal , Informal , Serious , Humorous , Amused , Angry ,
Playful , Neutral , Satirical , Playful , Conciliatory , Gloomy , Sad ,

Resigned , Supercilious ( Showing contemptuous indifference ), Cheerful ,

Ironic , Clear , Detailed , Imploring , Monotonous , Suspicious,

Pompous, Witty ( Full of humor ) , matter-of-fact tone ……….

  1. Mood : Fictional , Imaginary , Fanciful , Idealistic , Romantic , Realistic,
Optimistic , Pessimistic , Gloomy , Melancholic , Mournful ,


 Page Created on September 8th, 1998
 Last updated on April 20th,1999
   Copyright (C) 1998/1999 by Nada AbiSamra.

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