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Use of Language, Mood, and Tone: Objective III-2

Enrichment Plus Section 5.2

Lucinda McGinnis

on 29 January 2013

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Transcript of Use of Language, Mood, and Tone: Objective III-2

Enrichment Plus Sec 5.2 Language, Mood, Tone: Obj III-2 The author’s choice of words reveals a great deal to the reader. An author’s words can create mood, they can reveal an author’s tone (or attitude towards a subject), or they can show the author’s purpose in other ways. Example 1: Read the following passages Use of Language Passage 1: It was a calm winter day. Graceful snowflakes fell to the ground, which was already covered with a pure white blanket at least a foot deep. “What a perfect day to sell snow blowers!” the seasoned salesman said with a smile as he looked out his window. In passage 2, what is the mood? What is the tone in these two passages? Example 2: Look at the beginning of “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe. Poems can also have mood and tone. What is the mood of this poem?
A. uplifting
B. scary
C. homesick
D. depressing

What feeling do you get when you read this poem? What emotions does it make you feel? By answering these questions, you should discover the mood of this poem Mood Mood, or atmosphere, is the feeling created in the reader by a piece of literature. Words that describe the mood may be happy, contented, uplifting, sad, despairing, depressing, shocking, suspenseful, scary, horrific, or dreadful. Remember, these are emotions that the reader feels when reading an author’s words. Tone The tone of a piece of literature is the writer's attitude (or how he feels) toward the subject of the piece or the characters. The dialogue, the actions, and the description all can show tone. Words that describe tone may be serious, playful, humorous, sarcastic, sympathetic, mocking, formal, casual, matter-of-fact, bitter, critical, optimistic, carefree, or hopeless to name a few. Remember, these words describe the author’s attitude towards the subject, not the reader’s response. Mood and tone are easily confused, but you should be able to understand how they are different by studying the examples below. Passage 2: It was a bitterly cold winter day. Legions of dense snowflakes fell and smothered the ground. The foot of snow coverage promised to worsen as the day progressed. “What a beautiful day to sell encyclopedias,” grumbled the door-to-door salesman as he peered out his window. Both passages might describe the same day from differing points of view. In passage I, what is the mood? What kind of feeling or emotion do you, the reader, get when you read the
passage? Look at the words the author uses to give you clues. The author uses the words calm, graceful, pure white, perfect day, and smile to convey a peaceful, cheerful, and optimistic mood. The mood is opposite that in the first passage. The mood is gloomy and pessimistic. The author uses words like bitterly cold, legions, dense, smothered, worsen, and grumbled to convey a gloomy mood. The author also uses sarcasm to convey pessimism. The tone is actually the same in both. The author uses different moods, but the tone in both is matter-of-fact. The author describes the situations in an objective way. The “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profane bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. As the reader, what do you feel when you read this passage? This feeling is the mood of the passage. The mood in this passage could be described as one of dread or horror. That is what Poe wants the reader to feel. What is the tone of this passage? Remember, the tone is the author’s attitude towards the subject. The subject of this passage is the plague he calls the “Red Death.” The tone in this passage is serious. It is not casual, sympathetic, mocking, or playful. He treats the narrative about the plague seriously. How does the author create the mood of dread and horror? How does he give a serious tone? Poe uses words such as death, blood, devastated, pestilence, fatal, hideous, pains, and dissolution to create mood. He also uses sensory imagery such as profane bleeding at the pores which gives the reader a visual image of a victim of this plague and sharp pains which speaks to the reader’s sense of feeling. Poe’s overall use of imagery (word pictures) gives this passage its serious tone. Example 3: Read the following poem.

“Spring” by Edna St.Vincent Millay

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under the ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots,
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers Is this poem uplifting? No. Is it scary? No, the
author’s choice of words is not meant to cause fear in the reader. Is it homesick? No. Is it depressing? Yes. The author’s choice of words in this poem gives a mood of depression. Given the choices for mood, the answer is D, depressing. Another applicable mood for this poem might be hopelessness.
What is the tone of this poem?
A. happy
B. playful
C. sad
D. bitter

Now, what is the tone of this poem? What is the author’s attitude towards the subject of April, spring, and life?
The author’s attitude is not happy or playful. The author’s attitude isn’t adequately described as sad, either. The best description for the author’s attitude is bitter. The author seems bitter towards spring as it represents life. Even though this attitude seems apparent in the author, it is not necessarily the attitude of the reader. The poem doesn’t cause the reader to be bitter, but the author’s presentation of this poem shows that she is bitter. Spring by John Collier
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