The Tragic Hero Of Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart Essay

The Tragic Hero Of Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart Essay

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The concept of a tragic hero is one of the most notable and widespread literary tropes, having been in existence for over some 2000 years. As defined by Aristotle in his Poetics, a tragic hero is someone who undergoes a struggle far more potent than deserved. Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, exhibits a tragic hero through its protagonist, Okonkwo. Achebe achieves this status through his tragic flaw of excessive pride, his ultimate demise caused by said pride, and his ability to evoke fear and pity within the audience.
A character’s tragic flaw plays a key role in deciding whether or not they can be considered a tragic hero. Some might argue that Okonkwo does not demonstrate the needed tragic flaw, as his flaws are less uniform and more disconnected than that of the typical tragic hero. However, this is not so. Okonkwo’s flaw comes in the form of excessive pride, something loosely established through his personality. Specifically, three different aspects of his personality accomplish this: fear, anger, and inflexibility. Okonkwo’s fear is perhaps the most prominent of these three traits due to the fact that it is the most central aspect of his upbringing and, consequently, it “lay deep within himself” (Achebe 13). This deep-rooted anxiety reflects the fact that his pride depends on his ability to be accepted by his peers. Okonkwo himself expresses this ideal when he kills his adopted son, Ikemefuna, for the fact that he is “afraid of being thought weak” (Achebe 61). Moreover, his anger and irritability are, simply put, the unfavorable products of his pride. Due to his success across many differing fields, he becomes angered by those who do not demonstrate attributes similar to his own and “has little patience” with men w...


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...er for the rest of his life. Even more so, the audience associates with “the Igbo culture and its disintegration” (Telgen). In many cases, the reader will fear for the well being of their culture and, by extension, Okonkwo as well during the colonization of their land. This loss on their half calls for the audience to put themselves in the place of Okonkwo and his people in order to make an attempt in truly understanding the indescribable suffering these people are forced to endure.
Despite the many counter arguments that may exist, plenty enough evidence exists to argue and prove the fact that Okonkwo represents a tragic hero, albeit not the typical one. Between his complex, multilayered sense of pride, his collapse at the hands of his unbending will, and his pitiful background, one can easily understand why Okonkwo exhibits the traits required of a tragic hero.

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