In Higher English Close Reading Tone is structure, usually sentence structure, and word choice. In an Higher English Tone question you will usually be asked to identify a writer’s tone or attitude and then explain how that tone has been created by (sentence) structure and word choice.
Some students find it quite difficult to identify the tone. Remember, it is an emotional mood like angry, whimsical, mocking/ironic, humorous and so on. You have to bring a little bit of emotional literacy/sophistication to this part. Understand what the writer means. Is he or she attacking an idea? Mocking it? Supporting it? Being humorous? Ironic? Being dismissive, contemptuous or aggressive about ideas or people?
When you’ve got a feel for what the tone is you need a range of words to describe. It’s no good just writing a ‘positive tone’ or a ‘negative tone’ or a ‘happy tone’. That’s far too vague! Always be as accurate with identifying tone as you can be. You might need to get a thesaurus and look up some alternative words. Words like those above are what you are looking for – aggressive, contemptuous, dismissive, enthusiastic, ironic, humorous, bitter, joyful, exuberant and more.
Once you’ve identified the tone then the process to answer the question should be following the formula of how the techniques used create effects that generate this tone.
So it’s a case of -
- Name the literary technique(s) – word choice or a feature of sentence structure
- Quote the example
- Write about the effects with a bit of detail, depth and creativity, showing how it creates the tone
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