tragic hero comparison

Better Essays
Every culture influences its members and there are common characteristics of people in every culture throughout the world. William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart are separated by three centuries and yet Macbeth and Okonkwo have the same tragic flaws. Culture has a major influence on the development of tragic flaws, and although the cultures differ, tragic heroes remain constant.
Macbeth’s and Okonkwo's tragic flaws are influenced by their individual cultures. Cultural beliefs in Scotland during the 1600s include supernatural ideas such as witches and how they could predict the future. The third witch says to Banquo and Macbeth "All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!" (1.3.50). When Macbeth is told that he is going to be king of Scotland, he is driven by his vaulting ambition of becoming king and fulfilling the witches prophecy through killing everyone in his way of the crown. In Scotland during the time of Macbeth, heroes were celebrated and a king’s prestige was based on success as a war leader, but Macbeth was not voted into monarchy. Macbeth tells himself, “I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself And falls on the other” (1.7.25-28). Macbeth wanted to be king of Scotland and according to the witches he would be, he just had to kill Duncan, for no good reason except for his own self gain and to cover himself of the suspicion that would rise when he seized the throne. Okonkwo who is part of the Ibo culture in the 1950s values strength and prosperity and also fears failure. The Ibo culture thinks of fear as a weakness, but Okonkwo's fear of being thought of as weak led to his demise. When Okonkwo was taken into the forest with Ikeme...

... middle of paper ...

...drove himself to insanity and Okonkwo was not able to cope with the return from his exile and his hope of becoming a powerful leader became out of his reach.
Okonkwo and Macbeth lived in very different cultures which influenced their individual tragic flaws; and although their cultures were completely different tragic hero within each culture prevailed. Both Okonkwo and Macbeth were power hungry and had very similar tragic flaws. A tragic hero will be apparent in all cultures and time periods as part of the human condition but the culture itself truly influences all tragic flaws within characters.

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart: And Related Readings. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell, 1997. Print.
Shakespeare, William, and Eugene O'Neill. Macbeth and The Emperor Jones. Ed. Alfred A. May and Benjamin A. Heydrick. New York: Noble and Noble, 1965. Print.
Get Access