Things Fall Apart Critical Lens Essay

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In Chinua Achebe’s, Things Fall Apart, and Sophocles’, Oedipus the King, both heroes exemplify Aristotle’s concept of a tragic hero. Both literary pieces end with tragic settings, Okonkwo hanging himself, and Oedipus blinding himself. The idea of a tragic flaw can be interpreted as a struggle for the character, but also makes them have a more relatable appeal to the audience. Despite both exhibiting traits relating to Aristotle’s definition of tragedy, Okonkwo can be observed as the most tragic through the lack of responsibility for his actions along with his relatability to the audience.
Aristotle’s rule of hamartia in the theory of a tragic hero plays an enormous role towards the rise and fall of Okonkwo. Okonkwo’s hamartia, or his fatal …show more content…

Oedipus’ peripeteia occurs when he comes to the realization that he fulfilled the prophecy by killing his father and marrying his mother. The panic and fear Oedipus carried with him of the prophecy coming to fruition becomes his reality, where everything he knew was never his decision. In the midst of his panic before the reality he knows is pulled under his feet, Jocatsa attempts to calm Oedipus down, by telling him that prophecies can be defied. Jocasta tells Oedipus how her previous husband, Laius, and herself defied their prophecies, just like he can. She tells Oedipus of her prophecy, “It was said Laius was fated to be killed by a child of ours, one born to him and me.” (33) The moment Oedipus hears of Jocasta’s prophecy, the story sets his moment of peripeteia in motion. When Jocasta tells Oedipus of prophecy, it begins to internally confirm his fears for him having already fulfilled the prophecy. Part of her prophecy was identical to the prophecy he was given, making Oedipus start to piece together his and other prophecies. Oedipus is scared for the possible discovery of the prophecy being fulfilled, which would mean his life was never his. Despite Jocatsa’s attempt to calm Oedipus down about the prophecy, it only turns out to have already been fulfilled. Oedipus now having realized his fate speaks before going into the castle to inform Jocatsa, “O light, let me look at you …show more content…

Having gone through a moment of peripeteia, Oedipus’ story now takes an emotional toll on the audience. After Oedipus has experienced his downfall, his catharsis is set into motion by his desire to make his own final consequence and end fate. Oedipus now carrying the burden of realization about the fate he could never have escaped destroys his mentality and anything he knew about himself. He takes the drastic decision to blind himself with the pins from his mother’s dress after she kills herself, sparking pity in the audience. Oedipus accepted the responsibility for his actions, begging to the Chorus Leader & Creon, “Hide me somewhere outside the land of Thebes, or slaughter me, or hurl me in the sea, where you will never gaze on me again.” (63) Oedipus’ realization of the fate he inadvertently causes, pushes him to have an existential crisis, seeing that his life was never his to control. All Oedipus wanted was to live a life that he controlled, not by fate, but everything he thought was his choice, was never really his. His entire view of life crumbles completely, leaving Oedipus needing to decide something for himself, his punishment. He takes the emotional damage on the audience further by begging to be allowed to be separated from everyone, but was declined that form of punishment, that the gods are to decide his fate, allowing more pity for Oedipus' circumstances.

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