Higher Close Reading
Tone, Mood and Atmosphere
• Tone is important in your
appreciation of the passages you are
given to read. There is nothing
worse than taking everything
seriously only to discover later it was
all tongue-in-cheek. It is important
to take an overview before you
become involved in the individual
What gets marks?
• Because tone is so subjective, there
are often a number of acceptable
answers but identification of tone is
usually only worth something if you
justify your choice of that tone by
referring to the passage.
• Don’t put down a list and hope that
one of them is right – you won’t get
• So identify and justify!!!
• tone reveals the feelings and attitudes of
• it is how the writing might be said if it
were read aloud
• you will be asked to identify it, justify it
and/or explain its impact
• The main problem is a tone vocabulary!
A Tone Vocabulary
• humorous • business-like
• tongue-in-cheek • curious
• sarcastic • chatty/friendly
• ironic • mocking
• emotional -name the
emotion eg angry, • critical
depressed, • contemptuous
elated,moody, • menacing
indignant, • dismissive
• conversational • approving
• Despairing So . . .
• Superior 1. Identify the tone
2. Provide the evidence-
• Uplifting usually a quote
3. Comment on how the
tone creates the
• Self-deprecating effect or impact as
required by the
Questions on mood are answered in
a similar way to those on tone:
1. Identify the mood
2. Provide the evidence- usually a quote
3. Comment on how the mood is created or
creates the effect or impact as required by
So what is mood?
• Mood deals with the emotional
dimension of the text such as fear,
excitement, sadness, calm,
determination, reflection, elation,
optimistic, concern, reassurance etc.
• It is detected through the language
of the text and should ‘fit’ with the
sense of the passage.
• Atmosphere involves the senses. It is
what we perceive in an environment from
what we can see, hear, taste, smell or
• It can be frightening, eerie, lively,
decaying, neglected, exciting, soothing
• Answer using the same technique
suggested for tone and mood.
Other techniques to consider. . .
1. Point of view or the writer’s stance
3. Use of questions (real and rhetorical)
4. Use of anecdote
5. Use of examples, illustrations
6. Use of ‘experts’
7. Sound – alliteration, assonance,
onomatopoeia, word choice, repetitions,
patterns of words
Tone in Individual Questions
• Tone is the voice that would be used
to say the sentence or word. If
someone could read the passage
aloud for you it would really help in
this type of question. Unfortunately
you have to do this silently to
yourself – trying to ‘hear’ what your
voice would do with it.