Guide to Literary Terms

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How does tone help develop theme?

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missflusk14 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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To answer this question, we need to start with the definitions of what "tone" and themes" actually are. So:

Tone is the general feeling of the text. It has more to do with the way in which the author intends for the reader to feel while reading the work. For instance, a story about a child playing with a puppy can have a light, happy tone, whereas a poem about the death of a loved one will have a dark or sad tone.

A theme is the main idea of a work, sometimes referred to as the "big idea."  For example, a story could be about the loss of innocence through the experience of life's cruelties, or it...

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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chrisyhsun | Student

To answer this, first you have to understand to what the literary term "theme" refers. As stated above, the theme of a literary work is the message imparted by the writer. While the actual theme may be something unbiased, the author must have some opinion of the topic (or else he or she wouldn't be writing about it). A prime way for an author to express his or her views on the theme are through tone. This can include mere positive/negative opinions on the subject. However, it can also be more complex because tone in its various forms - emphatic, professional, harsh - can depict finer nuances of an author's approach to the topic. By correctly identifying the tone the author uses, readers gain further insight into the theme of a work.

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