mood in english literature

mood in english literature

Exploring the Significance of Mood in English Literature

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1. Introduction to Mood in Literature

It has been observed that in some literary works the evocation of mood is the factor that matters more than any other, and which is able to render complete satisfaction for the reader. The content of many of our narratives and dramas is often so thin that it is with relief that we abandon the zest for anxiety about the what, the how, or the why of the story. But even if a mood can fill in the inviting vacancy nearly all the space that it requires, nevertheless oddly enough, students of literature devoted practically no attention to this important subject. We have plenty of technical terms to describe the author’s observations of facts, his account of them, and the way in which he writes about them, but when it comes to discussing the emotions which a book calls for when we except the critics’ implicit application to visual arts of the equipment used for visual perceptual studies, the story is quickly told.

All day a fine drizzle has been falling, lacing its gray dainty pattern on brick walls and tree trunks. The air is cold and still, and at times one can almost fancy that the rain has ceased. In the west there is a pale amber streak of low-lying cloud. Inside there is no fire, and even with a pipe and a book it is almost as chilly as in the garden. Candles have been lighted, and they shed a yellow glow over the faded tapestry and the rows of books and the deep, worn colors of the Persian rug. In such an hour books are surely better than the streets. They are warm and full of life, like a bowl of roses; you can hold them to your heart and love them. Morning is all supervision and a bustle, daytime is a mere obstruction to be dodged. But the night was made for loving. It is then that one realizes that all things are as they should be: that the world seems a better place, that there is a rarer value in things, that love is the greatest good, and happiness the only setting under which we can experience it to the full.

2. The Role of Mood in Shaping Reader Experience

Feelings that rise while reading, and emotions released during periods of high reader identification are enormous forces extending through the imaginative experience into reader life. No reader can study English literature without first understanding the significant role reader’s mood plays in increasing and intensifying reader sensibilities. All fine creators throughout history share the notion that their creation is life in a very small form. What the reader becomes in the miracle of appreciation provides hints to the well of creative powers available for expansion into life in the here and now. A feeling of sadness may cry because of the black gulf that bars the hero’s path, but despite the barrier, the hero fights on forcefully. The reader may feel happiness grinningly blow all the way to the last stages of ill-attended woe. If any part of the emotional spectrum is a significant force in life, and it is, then readers must assume that source in themselves.

The reader’s mood is instrumental in the creation of the literary work of art. Mood is critically important both as an independent component of actual existence and reader disposition at a given moment, and as a force influencing all literary elements. To understand mood in writing, the reader must be particularly attuned to the interplay of the emotive capacity of words, the natural history of the individual reader and the complex organization of the literary work of art. The reader does well to recognize principles of Dynamic Psychology which operate in emotional crises directed and intensified by the magnificent treatment of many of the world’s greatest authors. Without understanding the importance of mood, the reader gains very little from the experience of contact with truly inspired works.

3. Techniques and Devices Used to Create Mood

The weather, for example, is an old device by which an author sets mood. Consider the significance of sun, fog, rain, thunder and lightning, wind, and snow. The effectiveness lies in revealing the author’s skill in characterization and situations so that, even as the effect of the weather is noted, the overriding manner of revealing mood is by established technique—the incidents of plot and the words and actions of characters. Interior arrangements (furniture, decorative objects, and lighting—electric or candle) relate in mood and preparation for characters’ mood and action. Consider the heavy tapestries, dimly lit rooms, and black furniture of gothic novels! How fortunate the wandering little girl on the deserted road or her escape into the gaslit warmth of a castle setting is suffused in the preparatory mood! Interior arrangements may also reveal psychological states of characters. They are not necessarily those the characters themselves are aware of, but they may reflect our senses of the characters’ ultimate worth as human beings.

In the creation of mood, we often recognize techniques and devices we ourselves use in the communication of our emotional states to others. For example, we use expressions of pleasure and displeasure—words, vocal sounds, and facial expressions—all to let the other person know our seemingly random fluctuation of mood—pleased, happy, annoyed, depressed, or angry. We also recognize the importance of physical setting in establishing mood—seasonal changes, temperature, time of day or year—here, but the implication, for it is not necessary that all be listed each time an author sets out to establish a mood. By creating appropriate settings, authors prepare readers for what, if readers are led skillfully, they will expect characters to do or to have done to them.

4. Analysis of Mood in Selected English Literary Works

There was a great deal of flexibility and freedom in the living style of the typical Englishman. The aim of the people was to avoid unpleasantness and to have as much amusement as possible. The aesthetic, mannered, and intellectual men appearing in the seventeenth-century court life were called fops or beaux. In another word, a man was a fop if he was more interested in fashion than moral values. The theater productions generally reflected this fop lifestyle, and it was also possible for people other than the courtiers involved in this lifestyle to see themselves within the reflections of the theater stage. Therefore, the middle-class Englishman bore the reflections of fop social behavior. Sir George Etherege had criticized the court life, the character type fop appears in his plays sarcastically. Only in this way, he had encountered the pleasure to support society. Since Etherege loves the traditions of his society, he has also taken pleasure from having attacks on the conventions. The main character Dorimant would not be understood in any other way in any other time or any other place. The Restoration society favored those men who were wits and men of taste because it made them seem to say that they had lifted themselves way above the common herd.

In this section, we have made a mood analysis of some famous literary works starting from the Restoration Period by taking into consideration the writers’ background. The articles try to relate the writings of the writers to the general mood and thoughts of the society at that period. Sir George Etherege’s “The Man of Mode” has reflected the Restoration society and life in great detail. The main character of “The Man of Mode” was a fop named Dorimant. At this period, it was possible for the only aim of having amusements. Although the characters were not that moral, the society had some rules to become respected. These moralities show us the way how the society tried to gain back the old values. Sarah Fielding’s “John Martin” also reflects the anger of the society when they have lost the taste of the values.

5. Conclusion and Implications for Literary Criticism

In this paper, I have tried to expose the mechanism of this mystification distortion, and I suggest that the culprit in the case is a lack of interest in classic theories of emotion. Their neglect has resulted in a peculiarly distorted notion of the experience of emotion. One consequence of this neglect is an underestimation of the extent to which speakers take advantage of our social relationships and cultural assets such that identifiable emotional states may be accessed and described within art, literature, everyday genres, and conversations, and it is left to readers and listeners to register instances of such socialities and so transform neutral descriptions of scenes and behavior into their relevant affective or interesting opposites.

Commentators on the question of mood and meaning in literature have often made a point of linking the understanding of such states to the equal appreciation of such “inner states” as emotions and to the foregrounding of private experiences as a major cultural market with which to engage. The way in which these propositions are by and large considered usually contains an unspoken hint of normative value. To be cultured, sensitive, concerned with human meaning in literature, as in life, is to appreciate the private and the inner individually, to value them positively, and to search for them. It is something that sensitive and finely crafted literature excels at in particular, for, as we have suggested, its study provides a cultural education at the same time. The central metaphor of a view of a mood or any kind of psychological or subjective state as a location with which to identify, towards which emotions are directed must have seemed particularly attractive to Fear, Clarke, Ryan and associates, and what they tried so hard to prove must have seemed particularly startling when it first appeared.

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