Difference Between Tone and Mood

Main Difference

The main difference between the mood and the tone is that the tone is how the author feels about what he is writing and the mood of a literary work is how the author makes the reader feel.

Tone vs. Mood

The tone is the author’s feelings or attitude about the subject matter and characters of the piece of literature. The mood is the feeling a reader gets when he is reading a piece of literature. It is synonymous with the ambiance and atmosphere. The tone is a feeling or manner that the author has meant to set in the story. The mood is the underlying feeling or atmosphere which is perceived by the reader. The tone is the attitude or feelings of the writer towards a subject. The mood is the emotions you feel while reading any written work by any writer. The tone is revealed by the author’s choice of words and details. An author can use a negative or positive tone in his work. The mood directs a prevailing feeling, or frame of mind, especially at the start of the story. Tone may be straightforward, sarcastic, pessimistic, optimistic, etc. Some possible adjectives to define the tone, are seriousness, joyful, straightforward, amusing, angry, suspicious, ironic, and many more. Mood depends on all the choices for setting, images, objects, and details. It emerges a sense of expectation to readers of what is to follow. The tone is the author’s overall attitude toward a subject and is conveyed through his word choice, phrasing and sentence structures. The mood is the emotion evoked by the author. Tone refers to the author’s own feeling about a piece of writing, and he is conveying the same to his readers. Mood refers to the feeling of the atmosphere the author is describing and making you feel sad, happy or angry.

Comparison Chart

ToneMood
The tone is the author feeling about what he is writingThe mood of a literary work is how the author makes the reader feel about a subject
Reflects
Atmosphere or the emotional settingThe attitude of the author
Literary Device
Setting, imagery, and dictionCreated by diction and detail
Purpose
Conveys author’s feelings towards a subjectShape the reader’s emotional response

What is Tone?

Tone refers to the feelings of the author about a piece of writing, and he is conveying the same to his readers. The tone in a piece of writing is conveyed through the author’s word choice, phrasing and sentence structures. The feeling, manner, or atmosphere that the author has meant to set in the story is tone. It can be revealed by the author’s or writer’s choice of words and details. A tone can either be a negative tone or positive tone. It emerges a sense of expectation to readers of what is to follow. The tone may be straightforward, sarcastic, pessimistic, optimistic, etc. Some possible adjectives to define the tone, are seriousness, joyful, straightforward, humorous, amusing, angry, suspicious, ironic, and many more. You will come to know what the author’s tone is implying by the words he uses. Tone basically tone reflects the feelings of the writer. All the writings, even official and technical documents convey a tone. Official documents and scientific writings are mostly written in an objective and formal tone. In literature, writers and authors use a variety of tones which are, formal, intimate, playful, serious, solemn, somber, ironic, satirical, condescending, bitter, etc. Authors use different literary devices such as diction, imagery, syntax, details, etc. to convey a particular tone.

Examples

  • “I prefer staying here and wait than going into that gloomy room.” The tone of this sentence imposes that the person is scared.
  • “I called my friend at his house; his brother said he is not home, but I heard his voice come on the line.” The tone of this sentence reflects that the person is suspicious.

What is Mood?

The mood is the emotions you feel while reading any written work by any writer. In a literary work, the feeling or atmosphere that the writer creates for the reader is called the mood. The mood directs a prevailing feeling, or frame of mind, especially at the start of the story. It depends on all the choices for setting, images, objects, and details. The mood of a writing piece can make a reader feel sad, happy or angry. It is synonymous with the ambiance and atmosphere. It is known as the emotional setting or the atmosphere created by a piece of literary work. The mood is established to affect the reader emotionally and psychologically. This establishment of the mood helps to provide a feeling for the narrative. The mood is created by various literary elements such as the setting, the tone of the narrator, and the choice of language. It is intended to shape the reader’s emotional response.

Examples

  • “The evening was dark and stormy.” This sentence gives you a scary ‘mood.’
  • “The man kicked and threw the poor kitten out of his house.” The sentence creates a mood of anger towards the man or a mood of pity towards the cat.

Key Differences

  1. The tone is the attitude of the author towards a subject whereas mood is the atmosphere or the emotional setting created by a piece of literary work.
  2. The tone is mainly created by diction and detail on the other hand mood is created by setting, imagery, and diction.
  3. The tone implies how the author feels towards the subject on the flip side mood directs the feeling of the surroundings and atmosphere the author is describing and making his readers feel.
  4. The tone is revealed by the author’s choice of words and details on the other hand mood directs a prevailing feeling, or frame of mind, especially at the start of the story.

Conclusion

Tone and Mood are literary elements embedded in literary works used by the writer to evoke feelings ad perception of the readers.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

View all posts by Aimie Carlson