Is Okonkwo A Tragic Hero Essay

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ENG 220 Assignment

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
1.2 Discuss Okonkwo as the tragic hero of the novel Things Fall Apart

Shawné Anderson
13012909
11 September 2014
(Groenkloof Campus) A tragic hero is a man of noble stature. He is not an ordinary man, but a man with outstanding quality and greatness about him. He is a person who is seen to be "better than we are" (Abrams & Harpham, 2012) A tragic hero is destined for downfall, suffering or death because of his apparent tragic flaw. (Tiffany, 2010) (Dictionary.com, 2014). In the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Okonkwo is identified as a tragic hero and this will be discussed according to Aristotle 's five common characteristics of a tragic hero. A tragic hero is usually born into a group of people who belong to the highest social class however, this is not the case with Okonkwo. A
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A tragic hero’s actions should result in an increase of self-awareness and self-knowledge however, this does not happen to Okonkwo but rather to life as he knows it. Okonkwo has always been a person who follows the law and he takes his punishment like a man, learning from his mistake yet, he does not change or grow from it. When Okonkwo returns from exile after being sent away for seven years for accidentally killing a boy, he finds out that the white missionaries have taken over the land. He is angry about this because the missionaries are replacing the tribal beliefs with Christianity. Okonkwo refuses to modify his beliefs and follow the new leader and religion. The fact that Okonkwo does not want to change yet everything around him has changed is ironic because he does his best to change society back to how it used to be. He struggles to adapt to the change and he ultimately ends up taking his own life, not having learnt or grown from the situation. Okonkwo is not able to increase his self-awareness and self-knowledge because he is not open to the new ways of life that the rest of his society are being exposed
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