Tone in Beloved Novel

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Many times, movies and novels vary greatly in terms of what ideas are presented and what literary devices are used. One major literary device used in Beloved is tone, which is portrayed very differently between the movie and the novel. In Beloved, Toni Morrison incorporates an ominous and suspenseful tone in order to illustrate the dark reality of slavery and its impact.        

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From the beginning of Beloved, Paul D can already establish the ominous tone in the novel, along with the suspense shown in the movie. Paul D walks in to Sethe’s home and asks what kind of evil is in her house, and looks at the spot where the grief had soaked him, as the red light surrounding him fades (Morrison 10-11). The evil he was referencing was the ghost of Sethe’s dead baby, and although he wasn’t aware of that yet, he could still sense and visualize that evil in the spot in front of him. In the movie, the red lights around Paul D were more emphasized than it was in the novel, giving the movie a suspenseful tone rather than the ominous tone represented in the novel. Paul D’s quick recognition of Sethe’s dead baby foreshadows the eerie events that may come later, which is demonstrated in both the book and movie.                

Beloved soon began to move Paul D around the house, and he didn’t know how to stop it because it just appeared as he was moving himself (Morrison 134). This signifies the strong and unusual control that this stranger, Beloved, had over him, alluding to a supernatural power. Although the evil entity appeared to be gone, it seems like the dead baby’s ghost came back in a human form, which distinguishes the ominous tone in the novel, unlike the suspenseful music used in the movie. Due to his constant moving around, Paul D was unable to sleep, so he went to the shed where he heard the door open, this turned out to be Beloved who told him he has to touch [her] (Morrison 136). Paul D wanted to resist the supernatural power that forced him to be with her, but he was unable to because of her strong control. In the movie, Beloved is shown walking slowly to the shed with creepy music, which further provides the suspenseful tone in the movie.        

The novel uses an ominous tone in contrast to a suspenseful tone in the movie, revealing how the horror of their past came back to haunt them. The tragic memories of slavery continue to live on, even after being freed.

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Tone In Beloved Novel. (2019, Aug 12). Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from

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