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Mood is the atmosphere and emotion created through the setting and tone set by the narrator or author.

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Set the Mood

An author creates mood to help develop the setting of a story, the characters’ roles in the story, and the emotional response the reader should have for the events taking place. The mood can create suspense, fear, happiness, anger, or tranquility. The characters are typically impacted by the mood of a story, and it often dictates their actions. Mood should typically elicit a mental or emotional response from the reader, and help them better immerse themselves into the story. For example, in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”, the dark, dreary, and bleak December night sets the mood for the mysterious rapping on the door that the narrator must muster the courage to open. The reader is held in suspense, wondering what the sound is, and later, what this giant bird wants from the narrator. The mood of a story can create foreshadowing, and it can fluctuate throughout the plot. Mood differs from tone in that the mood of a story is the reader’s relationship with the characters and events; the tone is the author’s attitude toward the characters and events unfolding in the plot.

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Notable Examples of Mood in Literature

“The wind was growing stronger, and Jem said it might be raining before we got home. There was no moon. The street light on the corner cast sharp shadows on the Radley house.”

“But never till tonight, never till now, / Did I go through a tempest dropping fire. / Either there is a civil strife in heaven, / Or else the world, too saucy with the gods, / Incenses them to send destruction.”

“Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December; / And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.”

Learn more about various devices in literature in our Picture Encyclopedia of Literary Elements!
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