The Character of Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Essay

The Character of Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Essay

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The Character of Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart

What makes a successful man? This, in itself, is a culture bound

question because it can vary from culture to culture. However, in the

perception of Okonkwo, the main character in Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall

Apart, the measure of a man's success is based on two elements, material

acquisition and growth, and physical prowess. This is ironic for Okonkwo since

his people's typical idea of success seems to be constructed of a complex,

strong spiritual culture, seemingly able to deal in traditional ways with any

challenge in nature and human experience. (Ravenscroft 9) Although Okonkwo is

undoubtedly an important member of Umuofian society, he is not a typical

representative of that society. (Taiwo 115) It is this basic dichotomy between

Okonkwo and his own culture that directly lead to the tragic fall of Okonkwo,

and ultimate disgrace.

I feel that it is important to note at this time that Things Fall Apart

is a tragedy, and Okonkwo is a tragic hero. For TFA to be a tragedy, it must

follow the following pattern...

"A tragedy .. is the imitation of an action that is erious, has

magnitude, and is complete in itself; in language with pleasurable accessories,

each kind brought in separately in the various parts of the work; in a dramatic,

not in a narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to

accomplish it catharsis of such emotions"

Aristotle, Poetics

Okonkwo is a tragic hero because he is superior to the regular people of the

tribe, "Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villa...

... middle of paper ...

...up perfectly in the last lines of the book

when an entire culture, all of its oral traditions, customs, ceremonies, lives,

the very essence of the Ibo people merited a "reasonable paragraph" in the

white man's book, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.


Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann

Educational Publishers, 1986.

Aristotle. Aristotle: The Poetics. "The Longinus: On the Sublime."

Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1960.

Ravenscroft, A. Chinua Achebe. Great Britain: Longmans, Green & CO LTD,


Serumaga, Robert. "A Mirror of Integration." Protest and Conflict in African

Literature (1969) 76

Taiwo, Oladele. Culture and the Nigerian Novel. New York: St. Martin's Press,


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