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There are many tones that are used in The Odyssey. There are tones of celebration and tones of nostalgia. The poem begins ten years after the end of the Trojan War. The Trojan War lasted ten years, so Odysseus has been gone twenty years. It has taken him ten years to get back home, but in the meantime, his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus are worried that he has died in the war. The goddess Athena encourages Telemachus to find out what has happened to his father.
Penelope is in despair. The love of her life is missing and to her, probably dead. There are plenty of suitors that want to marry her, but she wants nothing to do with them. She longs for her husband. The tone in this part of the story is tragedy. Penelope feels her life is over. There is no hope in going on. All she wants is to be with her husband again, no matter what that means.
"So I wish that they who have their home on Olympos would make me vanish, or sweet-haired Artemis strike me, so that I could meet Odysseus I long for, even under the hateful earth, and not have to please the mind of an inferior husband. Yet the evil is endurable, when one cries through the days, with heart constantly troubled, yet still is taken by sleep in the nights; for sleep is oblivion of all things both good and evil, when it has shrouded the eyelids. But now the god has sent the evil dreams thronging upon me. For on this very night there was one who lay by me, like him as he was when he went with the army, so that my own heart was happy. I though it was no dream, but a walking vision."
The tone is one of heartbreak and loss. Penelope thinks she will never see the love of her life in this lifetime again, so she wishes she could just die and be able to be with him. There is also a celebratory tone as well, when Odysseus does return home and returns to Penelope.
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