Tone and Mood in the Great Gatsby

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Tone and Mood in The Great Gatsby Unlike magicians, who never reveal the secrets behind their sleight of hand, writers leave their work behind to be examined long after they have left the stage. By studying the word choices that writers make, and by paying close attention to the placement of those words, we can learn the secrets behind literary magic and perhaps improve our own writings as well. In literary terms, the magic that writers create is call tone and mood. Tone is created by the words that the writer chooses; mood is the effect those words have on the reader. One of the masters of tone and mood was F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s writing tone was clear yet colorful; his use of language and the rhythms of his sentences create some of the most vivid moods in American literature. In our study of The Great Gatsby, we will be exploring Fitzgerald’s use of tone and mood at the peak of his writing powers. The following description of Tom Buchanan is an example of analytical examination of Fitzgerald’s words to create tone and mood: He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy, straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining, arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even…his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body—he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing…It was a body capable of enormous leverage—a cruel body. Fitzgerald’s tone creates a threatening mood in two ways: First he forms an impression of Tom with his choice of words—hard, supercilious, arrogant, cruel. There is no mistaking Buchanan for some gentle giant. Secondly, Fitzgerald adds to the effect with a mix of hard/soft and short/long word combinations—sturdy, hard, and

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