Ruthless Tone

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"Tone designates the attitude that a literary speaker expresses toward his or her subject matter and audience... Tone is described in adjectives that express emotion or manner: it may be compassionate or judgmental, scornful or reverent, formal or casual, arrogant or obsequious, serious or ironic, irate or serene, confident or timid."
(Hamilton 156)

I think one of the most interesting aspects of a work of literature is the tone. It gives so much character to the narrator/speaker and characters through their word choices and and such. For instance, what better way can a gang leader be characterized as a ruthless murderer than by having him calmly order the execution of a rival with a simple "Take care of him?" It's a good display of showing over telling.

Go.

4 Comments

Greta Carroll said:

Really good point Jessie, tone really is about the showing. And I think it is very important for both readers and authors to pay very close attention to tone. Authors need to make sure they are making the tone clear enough so that his audience does not get confused. And readers need to “listen” for the tone so that they can receive the full effect of the story. I think as an author though, creating the subtle tone of the characters speech without making it too obvious, yet making it unmistakable to the audience must be a challenge.

A wonderful example of tone is Alexander Pope's mock epic, The Rape of the Lock, which is about a kerfluffle caused in an aristocratic community when a too-bold suitor snipped off a lock of his beloved's hair.

Here's the scene where an accomplice hands him a pair of scissors (in perfect iambic pentameter, incidentally).

Just then, Clarissa drew with tempting Grace
A two-edg'd Weapon from her shining Case;
So Ladies in Romance assist their Knight,
Present the Spear, and arm him for the Fight.
He takes the Gift with rev'rence, and extends
The little Engine on his Fingers' Ends;

(Compare this with a similar scene in Bernice Bobs Her Hair, where Bernice prepars for an assault against Marjorie.)

Good entry, Jessie. I also wrote my agenda item about tone. Tone is so important in text because (usually) the reader is not reading it aloud. They need to see some kind of presence of a voice in the text. Although they never actually hear it, that voice can be essential to understanding the story.

Good entry, Jessie. I also wrote my agenda item about tone. Tone is so important in text because (usually) the reader is not reading it aloud. They need to see some kind of presence of a voice in the text. Although they never actually hear it, that voice can be essential to understanding the story.

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