Mood & Tone

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SWBAT analyze how mood and tone change at the climax of a novel.

Big Idea

How do mood and tone contribute to the suspense of a narrative?


This lesson is part of a series of lessons on the novel Frankenstein. In this lesson students analyze text to understand the difference between mood and tone.  The PowerPoint can be used with this lesson or any other lesson on mood and tone.

Mood and Tone Practice

45 minutes
Notes for Mood and Tone PowerPoint Slides

Slide 2 – Present students will slips of paper with the Hamlet quote typed on it. Leave room between the lines so students are able to make notes. Briefly analyze the quote, using paraphrase to dissect the denotative meaning of the words. Have students write their paraphrase next to the lines they have on the paper.

Slide 3 – Next, have students get into partners and practice saying the lines in different tones. Have them pick a tone that they think best fits the meaning of the lines they have written down.

Slide 4 – As a whole class, have students present their findings. Answering the questions on the slides.

Slide 5 – Have students record this definition in their notebooks.

Slide 6 – Explain that tone is deliberate choice the author makes about the characters and the situation of the characters. Explain that description of characters and setting, the choice to use certain adjectives, adverbs, verbs and nouns, develops the tone of the passage.  Also, point out that tone works with plot elements like foreshadowing and suspense.

Slide 7 – Have students pair up with new partners and analyze the tone of these particular passages, noting how the tone changes with the perspective of the characters. Have students write down specific words that they think contain tone and the tone they think each passage contains.

Slide 8 – Introduce the concept of mood and have students write the definition in their notebooks. Explain that while tone is a deliberate choice of the author to cast the setting and characters in a particular light, mood is the overall feeling of the work.  If tone is the author’s voice, then mood is the reader’s reaction to the author’s voice. Explain that authors develop mood through plot, dialogue, setting, and images.

Slide 9 – Have students partner again and analyze the passage to determine mood.  Have them focus on nouns and verbs and write down their interpretation of the mood of the passage.

Slide 10 – A good comparison of the ways authors develop tone and mood. 


Read-Aloud Chapter 20

35 minutes

Before students read chapter 20 aloud to each other, I have them look at the first paragraph of the chapter and then the 18th paragraph from chapter 20.  I ask them to mark the words that tell us what Frankenstein is feeling, marking examples of mood and tone in the text.  The students mark words like, "idle", "consideration", "reflection", in the first paragraph that tell us that Victor is thoughtful about what he is doing. In the 18th paragraph, Victor and the monster have just had a confrontation and students note words like "rage", "hastily", and "barbarously", that tell us that Victor is angry and frustrated.  

"These are all examples of mood words," I explain to them. Quite often a character's mood is presented to us in the form of adjectives and adverbs: I point to "idle" and "barbarously", and sometimes as nouns: I point to "consideration" and "reflection".

Now we notice that Victor's mood has changed, but why has it changed?  We discuss how the monster has come back to threaten Victor because Victor is taking his time in creating a companion for the monster. We also discuss how the monster seems to have read Victor's mind and that the two characters feed off of one another, influencing their mood.  

"So mood is the language that tells us what the characters are feeling, and the reactions they have to one another.  What is tone?"

I have the students go back to the third paragraph of chapter 20, looking at the description of the monster at the window.  How does Mary Shelley want us, as readers, to feel about the way Victor feels about the monster?  Remember that Victor is narrating this portion of the story.  What words clue us in to the way Victor feels about the monster and the way Shelley wants us to feel about his feelings?  The students take a minute or two, this is complicated.  Finally a student says: "She wants us to know that Victor hates the creature, but he's afraid of him at the same time."  I nod, "good."  "It's like Victor can't accept the creature or what he's done so he uses words like 'ghastly' and 'demon' to show how much he hates him."  "But he describes himself as 'trembling'", I point out. "Does Shelley paint Victor as a heroic, manly guy?" The students agree she doesn't.  That is an example of tone:  the words the author uses to create an emotion about the events.  We're supposed to feel sympathy for Victor right now, while at the same time feel disappointed in his disgust for the monster, and his reluctance to finish the task he promised the monster he would finish. 

I direct the students to get into their groups and read the rest of the chapter aloud. 

Mood & Tone

20 minutes

Students work in their groups marking the chapter for examples of mood and tone shifts, as well as difficult words they encounter.  To make sure they read the entire chapter, I ask them to briefly summarize as well.