Comprehending, Responding, Uncategorized

Identifying the MOOD

The mood is a feeling or atmosphere created in a novel, poem, short story, speech, film, music video, podcast, photograph, album cover etc.

We can talk about the OVERALL mood of a text.  For example, George Orwell creates a mood of hopelessness in his novel 'Animal Farm' because, despite all the animal’s best efforts, the rebellion fails and they end up worse off than when they started.

Or we can talk about the mood created in a particular scene or moment.  For example, in the film 'Rabbit Proof Fence', Phillip Noyce creates a feeling of chaos and despair in the scene when the Aboriginal girls (Molly, Gracie and Daisy) are forcibly removed from their mothers by Constable Riggs.

In ATAR English, when it comes to talking about mood you need to be able to:

  1. Identify what the mood of a text is.  Don’t say ‘negative’ or ‘positive’.  Be more specific.  There's a good list here if you need it:
  2. Explain how the mood is created. I.E. what techniques or conventions are being used?


  • Adjectives, verbs and adverbs used – i.e. DESCRIPTIVE LANGUAGE
  • Similes, metaphors, personification, onomatopoeia, hyperbole – i.e. FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE
  • Imagery – especially details related to the landscape, weather, lighting or setting.
  • Characterisation – pay attention to the actions, dialogue, facial expressions that might suggest the mood.

Can you identify the mood in each excerpt below?  Pick a technique from the list above and try to explain how the writer uses it to create the mood. Feel free to post your answers in the comments!

Extract from ‘Island Home’ (2015) by Tim WintonExtract from ‘Listen to the End’ (1981) by Tony Hunter
Black sky down around our ears, my son and I climb the stile in the frigid, buffeting wind.  Hail slants in, pinging and peppering us…I expect my boy to be cowed by the stinging ice and the suddenly savage afternoon…A flurry of wind sent the brown leaves tumbling end over end ahead of her along the dark, glistening pavement.  Thin, cold drizzle, driven by the wind wrapped a clammy embrace round her hurrying figure and swirls of mist danced beckoningly around the street lamps, transmuting their normally friendly beacons into baleful yellow eyes.  The tall Victorian houses frowned down disapprovingly…


  • Cinematography – low, high or canted angles, framing, composition, use of space, camera shots etc.
  • Lighting – shadows, colours, filters
  • Music, sound effects, lyrics
  • Symbols
  • Weather
  • Mise-en-scene – talk specifically about at least two of the following: composition, sets, props, actors, costumes and lighting.  If it’s easier, just talk about props or the walls, for example.  A lot of students try to talk about mise-en-scene in examinations but it’s really obvious if you don’t properly understand it 😊.

Can you identify the mood in each image below?  Pick a technique from the list above and explain how the writer uses it to create the mood? Again, feel free to post your answer in the comments!

Salvation Army Canada poster from their 2010 National Red Shield Campaign.
Photograph by Andrew McConnell, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (2010)

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