The purpose of tone is to express the author’s attitude toward elements of a story, such as characters, setting, or a situation. This literary device sets the mood of the story for the reader. Henry James uses tone effectively in the novel, The Turn of the Screw. The mood of the story shifts three times as the story progresses. It begins by being cheerful, then hostile and ends being depressing. The tone shifts due to the changes in the attitude and actions by the governess.
The beginning of The Turn of The Screw, the tone is overall cheerful. Two specific tones that stand out are joyful and dreamy. The tone is joyful as the story begins with Douglas and friends sitting around a campfire telling each other stories and having a good time. Everyone is having fun and it appears no one wants to go even though Douglas is unable to tell his story which is the governess’s tale of when she was hired to work at Bly till later. He asks “Is n’t anybody going? It was almost the tone of hope. Everybody will stay!” (James 6). This proves the get together is too wonderful to leave and everyone is enjoying the scary stories being told. The tone here represents the mood of the characters around the campfire, however shifts to the governess as her story begins. Despite the shift, the tone remains positive. The governess arrives at the house named Bly and sees this beautiful girl who is extraordinarily polite and is too good for her own self. She believes that the house and the girl are a dream. This is proven when the governess says, “such a place as would somehow, for diversion of the young idea, take all colour out of story-books and fairy-tales” (James 16). This shows that the governess believe...
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... is reminiscing about the fact that she messed up and it cost the boy’s life. The overall tone in the end of the novel is depressing as the governess’s actions and attitudes about current events tend to reflect the tone of the situation.
In conclusion, the changes in the actions and attitudes of the governess cause the tone to shift throughout the novel. The tone begins with being cheerful, changing to hostile and ending with sorrow. This concludes, that the literary device tone, effectively portrays the mood of the story through the governess to the reader. Tone is perhaps the best literary device’s author’s use, to connect the mood of the story to one’s heart. That in turn makes a reader feel closer to the characters in a story.
James, Henry. The turn of the screw and other short fiction. Bantam classic ed. Toronto: Bantam Books, 1983. Print.
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