What is the difference between the author's tone and mood in "The Lady or the Tiger" by Frank Stockton?
Both tone and mood are set by the author of the story, and they are easily confused! The tone is the feeling surrounding the story, or it can also be the feeling toward a character or subject within the story. For example, if a character says, "That gave me goosebumps," we might assume the character is nervous or excited. The author is purposefully using certain words, phrases, and sentences to set the tone. Tone is the way the author feels about his/her subject matter.
Mood, on the other hand, is what the reader feels as he/she reads the story. Again, the author wants the reader to feel a certain way whether it's joy and excitement or pity or fear or anger, etc.
It may seem that both should be the same, right? Well, often they are very closely related, but in "The Lady or the Tiger?," author Frank Stockton is masterful in distinguishing between tone and mood. The tone is very lighthearted. Stockton seems to be poking fun at this king and his subjects. The story is written much like a fairytale, where a reader might fast forward in his/her head to, "And they all lived happily ever after."
However, as we read, we quickly become horrified by the events before us. This "semi-barbaric king" (Stockton 1), has a system for determining one's guilt or innocence, and no matter the outcome, someone most likely loses. The accused is either eaten by a tiger or forced to marry someone he/she may or may not love or who might already be married to someone else!
So here is a story where the tone and mood are almost opposite to one another.
check Approved by eNotes Editorial