Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart

1628 Words7 Pages
Since the initial use of the literary device of tragic heroes, various renowned works of modern literature have implemented it. There are two types of tragic heroes Greek and Shakespearean. A Greek tragic hero is defined as a character of noble or high standing, who is destined for suffering, downfall, or defeat, due to forces outside of his control. A Shakespearean tragic hero is defined as a character of noble or high standing, who attempts to do the right thing, but in doing so “misses the mark” and does the wrong thing, ultimately bringing about his downfall. In many modern novels the existence of a tragic hero can be argued. An example is the postcolonial novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The novel follows the struggles of a…show more content…
In doing this he is not only freely choosing that but is also going against what he was told. A Shakespearean tragic hero is often attempting to do the right thing but “miss the mark” and does the opposite. In Thing Fall Apart this is not the cause for the protagonist Okonkwo, when he kills Ikemefuna, the young boy sacrificed by Mbaino to Umofia to prevent war, he does it out of fear of being weak. Okonkwo not only kills Ikemefuna out of fear but he was earlier told by Ezeudo, is oldest man in the village, to not take part in his death. This shows that Okwnko committed this act of violence for self-gain as opposed to being the right thing to do. “He heard Ikemefuna cry, "My father, they have killed me!" as he ran towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak” (Achebe 61). Achebe distinctly writes that when Ikemefuna runs towards Okonkwo he is fearful and he draws his machete and kills him. This displays that Okonkwo although high in rank is not a noble man. He has distanced himself from all things seen as weak or feminine in his society to the point where acts of violence are his responses to situations where he is fearful. His actions in this part of the novel directly go against the definition of a tragic hero. In killing Ikemefuna in an attempt to appear courageous, Okonkwo carries out this action for self-assurance of his own strength but in doing so he displays his fearful nature.
Open Document