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Relating Okonkwo to a Tragic Hero

Relating Okonkwo to a Tragic Hero

Aristotle’s description of a tragic hero is a good, consistent person who is aristocratic, but possesses a tragic flaw and hamartia that will lead to the character’s demise. In addition to that, the fate that befalls that character is often unfortunate, arousing the feeling of pity leading to catharsis. In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, the central character Okonkwo can be defined as a tragic hero as he has all the necessary qualities to be branded as such.

As demonstrated on several occasions, Okonkwo is not only noble but has a good character. He was strong and had already accomplished much during his time. “As a young man of eighteen, he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat (Achebe, Chinua, ).” Even though such an activity brought him fame, he was still kind hearted enough to take in and treat Ikemefuna as his son. Moreover, Okonkwo was a common man, and through hard work, managed to come from nothing to become one of the wealthy in the community. He “didn’t inherit a barn from his father. There was no barn to inherit (Achebe, Chinua, 6).” In addition to that, he was consistent with his action, even when he was asked to sacrifice Ikemefuna. On the downside, Okonkwo was a hostile person who was harsh towards his wife and children. Of all the qualities, however, his fear of failure was his major undoing. Even as he followed the oracle’s advice, Ikemefuna’s death was heavy on him that by the mental disturbance led to his gun exploding. He was banished from the village. His hamartia being extreme rashness and anger. After the exile, he came back trying to regain his glory, that on one occasion killed a white man out of anger, and when others tribesmen failed to kill the remaining whites, he felt dejected and went forth to hang himself. There was no burial or honor for those who had committed suicide in the village. Okonkwo was“…one of the greatest men in Umuofia . … now he will be buried like a dog (Achebe, Chinua, 147).”

In a nutshell, all the presentation above are of a tragic hero. As a great man, and a leader, Okonkwo faced a miserable fate, and his demise just as sad.

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