Okonkwo A Tragedy Analysis

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Whether it be literature, films, plays, music, or other developed forms of media, there have always been meaningful lessons and themes displayed throughout works published to the world. Often times these messages conveyed will vary depending on the genre they’re depicted under and one predominantly memorable genre that many advanced literature authors have developed great works around are tragedies. This includes seminal Greek tragedies written by authors such as Homer, and influential works developed in the Renaissance as by famous playwrights such as Shakespeare. Due to the great milestones tragedy writers have achieved, in today’s modern time it’s quite difficult to look at an original work and determine whether or not it is a tragedy.…show more content…
Simply put, Aristotle’s definition of a tragedy first calls for a character who faces an undeserving downfall. This brings into question the nature of our protagonist’s character; is Okonkwo a man who deserves a downfall, is he far from that, or perhaps is he at a neutral impasse? According to Commonlit’s published chapter of Aristotle’s tragedies, there must a character who is neither a hero nor a villain, “There remains, then, the character between these two extremes — that of a man who is not eminently good and just...Nor, again, should the downfall of the utter villain be exhibited...He must be one who is highly renowned and prosperous” (CommonLit). Aristotle says that a tragedy must affect a possibly highly renowned character, but also someone who is neither a very good character nor a very bad character. In the beginning of Things Fall Apart, the readers are immediately given a description of Okonkwo within the first sentence, “Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements,” (Things Fall Apart page 1). This sentence precisely shows that Okonkwo may have been in…show more content…
Unfortunately, his return was not as grandiose as he had planned in his mind, and he was even subject to changes brought by incoming Missionaries as well as the government system they’ve brought along with them. After several altercations with the British, Okonkwo beheaded one court messenger in public after being slightly provoked. This was witnessed by most men in Umuofia as well as several court messengers. Okonkwo, perhaps out of fear of imprisonment or further humiliation, or as a last chance to hold absolute control over himself, then decided to end his own life. This scene was an abrupt ending to the character who Achebe spent the hundred pages or so developing. As mentioned earlier by Aristotle, the strongest tragedy is one that presents the fall of a character due to error, not so much vice. However, in Ibo culture, it is a great dishonor for one to take their own life; an extraordinary disrespect towards the goddess of life, “It is an offense against the earth...his body is evil, and only strangers may touch it,” (page 207). In this instance, for a man to take his own life, it is in fact a greater wrong doing than it is a devastating incident. Okonkwo 's decision to take his own life was not an error nor a mistake, it was a decision he chose himself to make. This alone throws off the balance of the plot thus far. While it is true Okonkwo faced a tragedy, it’s hard to say if the entire

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