17 Feb 2015

Tone versus mood

Tone and mood in literature are not the same things. They are often mixed up and at the beginning difficult to grasp.
Tone is the attitude of the author, narrator or speaker towards the characters and actions in a piece of writing. Probably, the best answer for how to find out the tone is to read the piece aloud to understand the emotions of the speaker.

Mood is what the reader feels while reading a book. The very simple example from the non-fiction.

Compare the two sentences:

Keep off the grass!
Please use the pathways, thank you.

These two sentences talk about the same thing but using different tones: first is very authoritarian and the second is friendly. What about the reader's moods?
As for me, the first make me angry for being treated like a child and for ordering me. The second, the friendly tone finds immediately obedient Jola, who looks around to be sure that she is on the pathway.

Well, when to come to the literature it is not always so obvious, as good authors tend to hide their voice behind their characters, and as we cannot hear the 'tone', we only may look at the language, the diction of the book to understand the author's attitude.