“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe exposes a tragic figure, Okonkwo who possesses tragic flaws that eventually lead to his own downfall hence; it categorizes Okonkwo as a tragic hero. As Aristotle defines, “tragic hero is a noble man that displays tragic flaw or hamartia”. A tragedy will frequently promote the feeling of deep condolence towards the tragic hero because it often ends deadly. The protagonist character, Okonkwo embrace the absolute fit of tragic hero. He performs fatal flaw and banishes on behalf of it only to come back seven years later in a complete disappointment.
Okonkwo’s worst fear was to be the kind of man his father was, so he tried his best not to let his fear become a reality. With a father like Unoka, Okonkwo didn’t get the start as most young men in the village; however, he worked his way to the position of leadership of the clan. There was only one emotion that Okonkwo showed, and it was anger. This was his only emotion because it was how he expressed his feelings. Okonkwo had to leave his fatherland, but after returning home, he found his home unrecognizable.
I will further explain more about the theme. In the beginning of the story, Okonkwo was a very vigorous man who everyone loves. One day a killing happened leaving Okonkwo with a wife and a son, Ikemefuna. He grew to like the young boy, where he is different from his other children, On a fateful day, Okonkwo murders Ikemefuna. Okonkwo had a load of guilt for killing his adoptive son, Ikemefuna.
Okonkwo was abusive, angry, and showing little emotion. He was abusive towards his wives and children. His solves his problem with fists, he likes fighting and wars. In the end Okonkwo lets fear take control of his life, he kills a messenger from British district office. Realising his fate and the fact that his tribe can't be saved from the influence of the British colonists, he commits suicide which is forbbiden in his tribe.
A tragic hero is a term that describes a character who displays certain characteristics which affect their future significantly. In Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo’s fate as a tragic hero to an extent is greatly true as he portrays hamartia, a fatal flaw, and hubris, excessive pride. Even though the author describes Okonkwo as a hardworking, African farmer, it contradicts his rash decisions following numerous events. Therefore, Okonkwo’s tragedy is true as his fear of weakness and excessive pride lead him to his downfall. Even though Achebe sets Okonkwo to his downfall, it is evident that Okonkwo is a great hero despite his rash behavior and temper.
According to (Tonner. 2008), Aristotle’s definition of tragic hero is that a tragic hero is a character who is noble or man of high status, has flaw in his character and commits the crime. Upon committing the crime, the character realizes his mistakes and has tragic death at the end of the play. Similarly, in “The Things Fall Apart”, by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo, the main character in the play can be considered as tragic hero because he fulfills all the criteria set by Aristotle such as being a noble or high status, having a tragic flaw, commits the crime which leads to realization and at the end he has tragic death. Most of the tragic heroes are noble by birth or man of high status, but in case of Okonkwo, he was born to a lazy man and was certainly not a man of high status and noble by birth.
The tragic hero must have a flaw or error of judgment which can come in the from of justice or vengeance. As seen in Creon and Oedipus' story that the justice they serve is immortal and wicked. The hero must also experience a setback of fortune brought forth because of the hero's inaccuracy in discernment. The realization or recognition that the setback was brought by the hero's own actions. Excessive Pride is the most common of tragic hero's flaws which bring forward the remaining of the part the predicaments.
Okonkwo is supposed to fight back for his village and not stop until he gets it done. In the story Achebe quotes, “He was a man of action, a man of war. Unlike his father he could stand the look of blood.” (Chapter 2). Okonkwo loved action and violence. That is how he believes things should get done.
But much to the anguish of Okonkwo, Nwoye embodied most of his grandfather’s traits and this enraged Okonkwo deeply. Okonkwo dreads that Nwoye will blot the acclaim and honour he has worked so hard to achieve. Nwoye’s “incipient laziness” was causing Okonkwo great deal of distress and he sought to correct him by “constant nagging and beating” and as a result Nwoye was “turning into a sad-faced youth” (Pg. 13). Nwoye is aware that he should adopt the more masculine traits of his tribesmen, as desired by his father but he still prefers his mother’s company.
Despite his father’s weaknesses, (a lazy and wasteful man), he first-handedly gains fame and soon becomes all-powerful and wealthy. However, these attributes gnaw at him and transform him into an extremely turbulent man, leading him to perform unspeakable things, like even killing his own son. After a seven year exile, Okonkwo returns to Umuofia and discovers that many of his men have converted to Christianity. Unable to adapt to the change, everything seems to