Okonkwo's Tragic Flaws in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

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An increasing amount of contemporary literature traces its origins back to the early works of Greece. For ages, humans have fascinated themselves with the impossible notion of perfection. Unrealistic expectations placed on those who were thought to be the noblest or most honorable individuals have repeatedly led to disappointment and frustration, either on the part of those particular individuals or those they influence. Classic characters, like Odysseus and Oedipus for instance, exemplify the excess of some positive character trait, like pride or honesty, which ironically leads to their personal misfortune. Throughout literary history, particularly within Grecian writings and apparently still evident in today's international pieces, there exists continuity within the human fear of failure. Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart, details a remote native African society, the Igbo people, and their struggle with Anglican colonization at the turn of the century. The main character Okonkwo is forced to deal with change and transition and bears similarities essential to the tragic hero. Okonkwo is physically, politically, spiritually, and economically strong; however, these strengths combined with his emotional insecurities force him into a tragic downfall, much like that of the classic Greek Heroes. In typical Greek tragedies, the main character is driven to reach a goal that would prove him or her to be worthy of public admiration of the other characters. That goal is in all probability a good intention; however, some inevitable personality or character flaw prevents that goal from being accomplished and instigates the final tragedy. Aristotle coined the term hamartia, which has frequently been interpreted to mean ... ... middle of paper ... ...ic Hero." Kentucky State University. Web. 28 May 2014. http://www.kysu.edu/artsscience/ENG411/tragic%20hero.htm Works Consulted Innes, C.L. Chinua Achebe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Obiechina, Emmanuel. "Narrative Proverbs in the African Novel," Research in African Literatures, 24, 4 (1993), 123-140. Okafor, Chinyere Grace. "From the Heart of Masculinity: Ogbodo-Uke Women's Masking." Research in African Literatures, 25, 3 (1994), 7-17. Quayson, Ato. “Realism, Criticism, and the Disguises of Both: A Reading of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart with an Evaluation of the Criticism Relating to It.” Research in African Literatures 25. 4, 1994: 117–36. Traore, Ousseynou. "Things Fall Apart; A Poetics of Epic and Mythic Paradigms." Approaches to Teaching Achebe's Things Fall Apart. ed. Bernth Lindfors. New York: MLA, 1991, 65-73.

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