Things Fall Apart written by Chinua Achebe is considered to be an English-language novel written in 1958. The author managed to disclose several important themes such as social rituals, marriage customs, honor symbols, and human values. It is necessary to underline the fact that this work demonstrates the balance between tragedy and irony describing the character’s misfortunes leading to the final downfall.
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Okonkwo is the protagonist of the novel who can be perceived as a tragic hero through several factors; he is referred to as the tribe elite though he was not born in prestige and wealth, besides, Okonkwo’s strong-willed character could allow him to reach top position though led him to complete downfall.
A tragic hero can be identified as a person of elevated status; by Aristotle’s definition such a hero is to be of high social station and noble birth whose moral make up is closely related to the state atmosphere he lives in. Aristotle’s expressed the position that the tragic gall of the hero is to be the result of his pre-ordained fate or destiny or caused by disastrous fortune change; while in “Aristotle’s tragedy” important events always turn out to be damaging for the protagonist. Comparing this definition with the novel “Things Fall Apart” it should be noted that Okonkwo’s strong soul was ruined under the pressure of personal passion which appeared to be the result of his success and downfall at the same time.
Okonkwo can be referred to as the model classic tragic hero who managed to combine pride and rashness leading him to the downfall. The author managed to demonstrate gradual character’s change whose good intentions and strong resistance to external interference appeared to change into fear and weakness making obstacles to his achievements and destroying his status. It is important to note that Okonkwo’s tragic flaw is closely connected with his manliness obsession; it made him commit irrational violence undermining the character’s nobleness.
The characterization of Okonkwo as a true tragic hero can be stressed in his death; witnessing the start of the end for his tribe, Okonkwo could not perceive the civilization “hands” destroying the culture of his nation and it is death that made him be a true tragic hero. The author strived to illustrate the tragic conflict within the traditional culture of the African tribe; the conflict, observed between the personal intentions and collective demands, strengthened and weakened Okonkwo’s power and position under the fear of influence to become weak like his father.
The theme of tragedy representation and character’s flow closely interacted with customs and traditions impacting the hero’s inner change and tribal beliefs in cultural independence. Considering Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero it is necessary to underline the fact that Okonkwo can be named a real model of tragedy protagonist whose fate and inner breakages led him to tragic flow. Okonkwo fought not only for his people but got culture, religion, and living standards expressing his protest against the civilization epoch introduced in his native land.
So, it holds be noted that Chinua Achebe managed to create a great tragedy of tribe living disclosed through the personal tragedy of one character who was unable to overcome his passion for family, culture, and work. The fortune appeared to be built upon the hidden downfall making the novel to be a tragedy of epoch transferring modern readers to the period of ancient tribes, their culture, and values.
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Aristotle’s Definition of Tragedy and the Tragic Hero. Web.
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Anchor, 1994.