Literary Mood

The mood describes the perceived emotion of the speaker or writer. A text's mood creates an atmosphere intended to solicit the reader's feelings and convey a message. Although it isn't always clear, the passage's context often identifies the mood. Certain words or phrases can communicate the mood, helping the reader understand the writer's intent or purpose. For example, a mood of encouragement can communicate a promise of blessing, while a mood of anger can indicate a curse or judgment.


While certainly not exhaustive, the below list provides some basic examples of mood. Feel free to add to it. Additionally, you may find that specific passages convey more than one mood, especially if those passages involve multiple people.

  • Joyful/Happy
  • Angry
  • Regretful
  • Sorrowful
  • Remorseful
  • Bitterness
  • Fearful
  • Hopeful
  • Lonely
  • Serious
  • Romantic
  • Motivated
  • Suspicious
  • Vengeful

Suggested Approach

When attempting to understand the mood of the passage and the writer's intent, it is best to adhere to the following steps. Use the questions you answered in the Observe phase as a guide.

  1. From answering the "Who?" questions, review all of the characters in the passage. This includes individuals as well as groups of people.

  2. For each individual or group, use the text when attempting to determine their mood. Look for words or phrases that communicate such. Sometimes, those words or phrases may be in surrounding passages.

  3. Review the "Why?" and "What?" questions when trying to determine the cause of the characters' moods and the results, if any, of their moods.

POUR Method
The POUR Method is a hermeneutical approach to studying the Bible.
It develops a healthy discipline of examining Scripture through its proper contexts.
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