Tone, Diction and Imagery

By Cynthia Barboza and Diana Duran


Tone is the general character or attitude of a piece of writing. An example of this is in the following article:

"But that is Cooper's way; frequently he will explain and justify little things that do not need it and then make up for this by as frequently failing to explain important ones that do need it. For instance he allowed that astute and cautious person, Deerslayer-Hawkeye, to throw his rifle heedlessly down and leave it lying on the ground where some hostile Indians would presently be sure to find it - a rifle prized by that person above all the things else in the earth - and the reader gets no work of explanation of that strange act. There was a reason, but it wouldn't bear exposure. Cooper meant to get a fine dramatic effect out of the finding of the rifle by the Indian, and he accomplished this at the happy time; but all the same, Hawkeye could have hidden the rifle in a quarter of a minute where the Indians could not have found it. Cooper couldn't think of any way to explain why Hawkeye didn't do that, so he just shirked the difficulty and did not explain at all" -Mark Twain

**IN this passage the tone of Twain is that he was negative towards Cooper and towards the reader he is trying to express how annoying and irresponsible Cooper is. He creates the tone by giving examples of the messed up things Cooper has done.


Diction is the choice or use of words in speech or writing. The following example will include diction:

"Close by the fire sat an old man whose countenance was furrowed with distress" -James Boswell

**IN the sentence above the word furrowed connotes about the man's distress that his anxiety was stronger and it probably has him in pain, which is why his face is furrowed. The impact that furrowed has on this sentence instead of lined is that furrowed makes it seem like his distress is more serious than lined wouldn't have made it seem so serious.


Imagery is visually descriptive or figurative language, in literary work. The following paragraph includes and example:

"I sat on the stump of a tree at his feet, and below us stretched the land, the great expanse of the forests, somber under the sunshine, rolling like a sea, with glints of winding rivers, the grey spots of villages, and here and there a clearing, like an islet of light amongst the dark waves of continuous tree-tops. A brooding gloom lay over this vast and monotonous landscape; the light fell on it as if into an abyss. The land devoured the sunshine; only far off, along the coast, the empty ocean, smooth and polished within the faint haze, seemed to rise up to the sky in a wall of steel." -Joseph Conrad

*THE Imagery in this passage was...

-Imagery of land; stump of a tree, great expanse of forest, somber under the sunshine, grey sports of village, continous tree tops, vast and monotonous landscape.

-Images of Sea; rolling like a sea, glints of winding rivers, islet of light amonst the dark waved, far off along the coast, empty ocean seemed to rise up to the sky.

*The attitude he conveys toward the sea and land is that He finds land fun to explore and he finds it big and vast. He enjoys the calming waves of the ocean and the intimidating vastness of the ocean and its fresh breeze.