Essay on Use of Tone in Literature

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For example, if the events that took place in The Things They Carried were described in a newspaper, we might understand what happened, who died, and what was statistically important, but we probably wouldn't be told why certain things happened, how people felt about these things, and what emotional toll the the soldiers endured. In this particular story, tone acts as spot light which illuminates the informational aspects of the literature. In other words, due to the casual and personal tone of this particular story, certain things must be said; we the reader must be privy to certain thoughts and feelings of the characters in the story; this information is neither granted to us, or expected from us when we pick up a newspaper and read …show more content…
We can see tone in literature in the same way it is heard in music. While different instruments are able to play the same notes, the tone of an instrument gives the notes character and texture. This is the difference between one of Beethoven's symphonies played on a cell phone compared to a violin – the basic notes are there, but tone breathes life into them and gives them meaning, thus making them perceptible not just as frequencies, but as music.

In the Death of a Salesman the importance and meaning of the story goes beyond “salesmen dies in car crash.” The overall tone of the play, as well as the tone of each character in the play, is crucial in helping us understand who and why these people did what they did. Willy Loman's ramblings and hallucinations have a wild and disjoint tone that serves to inform us of his mental state, fears, feelings, regrets, and emotions. If the content of his hallucinations were presented directly as background information, or as a coherent dream sequence, we would not understand Willy in the same way. It is not just what Willy says, but how he says it that gives us such a clear picture of how far down he has fallen and just how bad things are for him. The contrasting tone of Willy's wife helps to make Willy stand out even more. Similarly, the tones taken on by Biff and Happy reveal that they represent the two sides of Willy – a realization not easily determined by the…