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Mood is one element in the narrative structure of a piece of literature. It can also be referred to as atmosphere because it creates an emotional setting enveloping the reader. Mood is established in order to affect the reader emotionally and psychologically and to provide a feeling for the narrative.
Elements of mood
Mood is generally created through several different things. Setting, which provides the physical location of the story, is used in order to create a background in which the story takes place. Different settings can color the mood of a story differently, and usually supports or conflicts with the other content of the story in some way. For example, the desert may be a setting for a cowboy story, and may generate a mood of solitude, desolation, and struggle, among other possible associations. The attitude of the narrator is another element that helps generate mood. As the reader is dependent on the narrator's perspective of the story, they see the story through their lenses, feeling the way the narrator feels about what happens or what is being described. Embedded in the attitude of a narrator are the feelings and emotions which make it up. A similar element that goes into generating mood is diction, that is, the choice and style of words the writer uses. Diction conveys a sensibility as well as portrays the content of a story in specific colors, thus affecting the way the reader feels about it.
Difference between tone and mood
Tone and mood are not the same, although variations of the two words may on occasions be interchangeable terms. The tone of a piece of literature is the speaker's or narrator's attitude towards the subject, rather than what the reader feels, as in mood. Mood is the general feeling or atmosphere that a piece of writing creates within the reader. Mood is produced most effectively through the use of setting, theme, voice and tone.
- The Book of Literary Terms, University Press of New England, 1999