Comparing Tone Essay

6 June 2016

The tone of a literary work encompasses the author’s attitude toward the subject and toward the audience. Both “Emancipation” and “Brown vs. Board of Education” are nonfiction essays used to describe important events in American history. At points in each essay, their tones are very similar, at other points in each essay, their tones differ. One thing that determines the tone of an essay is the point the author is trying to get across in his or her writing. Tone is very important in an essay because it allows the author’s to create a mood within his or her writing by using choice words that reflect that mood.

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The tone in “Emancipation” is serious, formal, and dramatic. The author chooses these tones because the essay is nonfiction and tells about key decisions in American history and why they were made. “Abolitionists were demanding that the president free the slaves at once, by means of a wartime Proclamation.” Lincoln hesitated on freeing slaves because he feared that emancipation would drive the loyal, border-holding states into the arms of the south.

The decision that Lincoln faced on slavery was one of the biggest and most important decisions in American history. If he had chosen not to abolish slavery, America’s progression and greatness would have certainly been delayed. Because this essay was written during such a significant time in our history, the author used a formal, serious, and dramatic tone.

The tone in “Brown vs. Board of Education” varies throughout the essay. At times the tone is serious and formal. At other points in this essay, the tone is informal and somewhat persuasive. “Thirteen families sued the Topeka school board, claiming that to segregate children was harmful to the children and, therefore, a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

This is an example of a formal tone in the essay because it discusses how African Americans were fighting for their rights and their children’s well being during a very controversial time in history. The tone changes to informal when the author goes on to talk about Thurgood Marshall’s boyhood. The tone also seems to be persuasive throughout the essay as the author tries to get the reader to look at segregation through an African American’s point of view. Because the author used different tones throughout “Brown vs. Board of Education” he was able to keep the readers engaged and make this time in history significant and interesting to read about.

Both authors used tones throughout their essays to narrate pressing and challenging times in American history. While the author of “Emancipation” sticks with the formal tone through the entirety of his essay, the author of “Brown vs. Board of Education” fluctuates between formal and informal tones. The tones they chose to create in each of their literary works successfully provided important information and explained about our history. Although the authors used different tones, both accomplished what they wanted to convey to their readers.

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