Essay PreviewMore ↓
Evil in Things Fall Apart
Throughout the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the reader feels evil. Evil is a concept that is hard to define. The dictionary defines it as " morally bad; wicked" (Funk & Wagnalls 220). But is the definition of evil really as simple as that? Many would say that there is more to defining evil than just a few words. Evil can also be defined by a culture. If one were to study various cultures around the world, he or she would discover that each culture has a different way of defining evil. Even world politics sometimes plays a role in defining evil. But one's personal definition seems to have the most impact on what one thinks is evil.
Theology has played a strong role in defining evil for thousands of years. The Bible teaches Christians that Satan is evil, and not to follow his teachings. Evil as a concept in Christianity developed in the third and fourth centuries. During that time, St. Augustine determined that "Evil is the privation, or absence, of good, as darkness is the absence of light." (Funk&Wagnalls19) In modern times, theology has had a difficult time defending the existence of God in light of the many atrocities that have occurred in the last 100 years, such as the Holocaust, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. As a result, theology is now having to redefine what evil is.
Cultures and politics among cultures have a way of defining evil for their own inhabitants. The Europeans who visited the Ibo culture in Things Fall Apart viewed many of the customs that the natives practiced as evil or barbaric or primitive. The Ibo concept of the "Evil Forest" was one of them. It was something that each village had and "In it were buried all those who died of the really evil diseases, like leprosy and smallpox." (Achebe 148) Another belief held by the tribe in the novel is that if a woman has children, and each dies under "evil" circumstances, then she is under attack by an evil tormentor. The remedy to this problem is to " Let her not sleep in her hut. Let her go and stay with her people. In that way she will elude her wicked tormentor and break its evil cycle of birth and death" (Achebe 77).
How to Cite this Page
"Evil in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart." 123HelpMe.com. 15 Jul 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, and Heart of Darkness by Joesph Conrad both analyze the imperialism of Africa in the late 1890’s to mid-1900’s. Things Fall Apart focuses on the native’s perspective, painting a negative picture of the Europeans. Heart of Darkness is from the European’s point of view, and depicts the natives as “savages”. Chinua Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart as a reaction novel to Heart of Darkness, as he felt that Conrad gave an inaccurate account of the African culture. Both novels recognize the main character's personal evils as well as their adversary’s.... [tags: Things Fall Apart, Heart of Darkness, Achebe]
1662 words (4.7 pages)
- 3. Whites often referred to Africa as the “Dark Continent,” a place of evil. Considering Igbo traditional beliefs and the colonial encounter between Britain and the Igbo, where is evil located in this book. In the Things Fall Apart, Achebe (1969) portrays Nigeria at a time when the arrival of the British was intrusive as they crept within Nigeria’s borders and made an overwhelming influence while they claimed that Nigerians were ultimately evil and needed to be controlled. In essence, it appears that one of Achebe’s (1969) goals is to convey to readers what the British’s alternative motives were when British colonialism occurred.... [tags: Things Fall Apart Essays]
532 words (1.5 pages)
- Throughout History there has been a desire for main stream white culture to explore and expand to new areas with many different objetives in mind. Many were looking for new lands that had untold riches while others were spreading cultural or religious beliefs in an attemped to gain support for their beliefs. Some times this was a welcomed addiction to foreign societies bring them new technologies and ideas to improve there life. But it was just as likely that these new additions to their culture and society would have a negative effect causing many peoples lives to be changed for ever.... [tags: Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart]
1373 words (3.9 pages)
- Throughout the world there are many conflicts. It has been that way all throughout history. Since the dawn of man, there have been many conflicts. These conflicts led to wars and changed the lives of many forever. Almost all of the conflicts are due to discrimination by different groups of people. Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, provide examples of discrimination between groups of people. The story focuses on the life and suicide of Okonkwo, a well-respected clansman of Umuofia clan. He struggles between the traditional strong masculine culture in a Nigerian Village and the new customs brought by white missionaries.... [tags: Things Fall Apart Essays]
1079 words (3.1 pages)
- Many people see other people as equal or lower than or higher than them. This includes by wealth, knowledge or rights. Few people know about the caste system in India, but many people are able to point out the untouchables. Why. Is it because everyone knows that they are better than the untouchables. Some people feel that the untouchables are strictly only in India, but they don’t realize that even bigger countries have untouchables; they are just called something else. Many tribes in Africa also have untouchables, including the Igbo tribe.... [tags: Things Fall Apart Essays]
1230 words (3.5 pages)
- The classic African literary tale Things Fall Apart, written by Chinua Achebe, is a brilliant account of historical African culture and the destruction colonialism can cause upon such cultures. As the reader follows the narrative and complexity of the characters through the novel, a sense of pride, trust, and faith in history emerges. Yet, with the introduction of colonialism the characters must learn to embrace and adapt to a new culture and set of beliefs or face termination from society. The novel explores the troubles of African cultures and their adaptation to colonialism.... [tags: Things Fall Apart Essays]
1731 words (4.9 pages)
- Notion of Balance in Things Fall Apart by Achebe The notion of balance in Achebe's novel is an important theme throughout the book. Beginning with the excerpt from Yeats's poem, "The Second Coming," the concept of balance is stressed as important, for without balance, order is lost. In the novel, there are many systems of balance which the Ibo culture seems to depend upon. It is when these systems are upset that "things fall apart." Okonkwo, the Ibo religion, and ultimately, the Ibos' autonomy were brought to their demise by an extreme imbalance between their male and female aspects.... [tags: Achebe Things Fall Apart Essays]
1625 words (4.6 pages)
- Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Okonkwo, as presented by Chinua Achebe in the novel Things Fall Apart, wished to be revered by all as a man of great wealth, power and control--the antithesis of his father. Okonkwo was driven by the need to exhibit utmost control over himself and others; he was an obsessive and insecure man. Okonkwo's father, Unoka, was "a failure," "a loafer," and "People laughed at him" (1426). This would bring great shame to any man as it did for Okonkwo. In Umuofia "a man is judged according to his worth and not according to the worth of his father" (1427).... [tags: Things Fall Apart essays Chinua Achebe Papers]
962 words (2.7 pages)
- The Power Struggle in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is a powerful novel about the social changes that occurred when the white man first arrived on the African continent. The novel is based on a conception of humans as self-reflexive beings and a definition of culture as a set of control mechanisms. Things Fall Apart is the story of Okonkwo, an elder, in the Igbo tribe. He is a fairly successful man who earned the respect of the tribal elders. The story of Okonkwo’s fall from a respected member of the tribe to an outcast who dies in disgrace graphically dramatizes the struggle between the altruistic values of Christianity and the lust for power that mot... [tags: Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe]
1198 words (3.4 pages)
- Existentialism in Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe presents his audience with an interesting twist to a contemporary school of thought in his work Things Fall Apart. This post-colonization narrative incorporates several traits that revolt against normative philosophic systems and tralititious theories and beliefs of the existence of man and his place in the universe. Achebe's efforts are characterized by a small diverse group of writers that purge realizations of predestination, and instead define man's existence by identifying his independent choices throughout the life course. Achebe's style, although peculiar in one sense, can be defined in relation to the school of... [tags: Things Fall Apart essays]
1633 words (4.7 pages)
In turn, the natives saw the European culture and religion as invasive and parasitic. Some of the natives willfully converted to Christianity, but " There were still many who saw these new institutions as evil..." (Achebe 183). The natives found many of the European customs to be contrary to their own, and labeled them evil. In more recent times, entire nations view each other as evil. For several decades the United States and the Soviet Union viewed each other as evil. The United States determined that the Soviet people were not free, and that deprivation of freedom was evil. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, saw the U.S. as a capitalist nation of which greed had totally consumed. The American view on the Soviet Union reached its climax when President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union the "Evil Empire." Each of these views is valid, but are the United States and the Soviet Union really evil?
The most influential definition of evil on an individual is the one that the individual devises for himself or herself. What really makes evil an ambiguous concept is the fact that people define evil in different ways. Certain groups of people believe that Adolf Hitler's slaughter of 6 millions Jewish people was not evil. Some people felt the United States' participation in the Vietnam War was evil, and they labeled American troops as baby killers and the like. Many people believe that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were evil youths when the shot and killed 13 of their fellow students at Columbine High School, even when many of the victims begged for their lives to be spared. Most people's definition of evil comes from the religion they practice, and the values they hold.
With all the ways that evil can defined, what is evil? Theology, culture, politics, and the individual all offer different definitions. It would seem that the only way for a person to understand and define evil is to take the cultural definitions, and the religious definitions and create their own definition that fits their own unique perspective of the world in which they live. If you take the word evil, and spell it backwards, you get the word live. The debate on what is evil seems to boil down to just one simple thing. It is just a matter of perspective.