Comparing the Tragic Hero in Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness

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The Tragic Hero in Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness

A tragic hero could be considered a "noble person with a fatal flaw" or "an opponent of society who is willing to take action that 'sensible people' might applaud but never perform themselves". In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and
Joseph Conrads's Heart of Darkness, two characters, Okonkwo and Kurtz, have some qualities which could categorize them as tragic heroes. However, only the reader's interpretation of the characters' actions will determine if they are tragic heroes or not. In his Ibo society, Okonkwo would certainly be considered a "noble person". Not only has he worked his way up from poverty to become one of the leading men of Umuofia, but he has
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But

he was not the man to go about telling his neighbors that he was in error", (Achebe

31). Okonkwo has too much pride to admit to his mistake, which only reveals his

insecurity. One of the most horrendous acts in the book Okonkwo committed re-

sulted from his fear. "Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him

down. He was afraid of being thought weak", (Achebe 61). Ikemefuna, a boy who

had become like a son to Okonkwo, was sentenced to be killed. Since Okonkwo

did not want the other tribesmen to think he was weak and incapable of action, he

killed the boy. Perhaps Okonkwo's greatest sign of weakness occurs at his death.

After killing a white messenger, he commits suicide. Now, people who commit sui- cide usually cannot cope with their world; they are too weak to handle their prob- lems. When Okonkwo killed himself, he had accepted his weakness as a flaw and punished himself.

Before Okonkwo hanged himself, he voiced his disgust against the white people.
He often talked of physically disbanding the white men from Umuofia. Many of the older and traditional folk of the clan agreed with him, while others joined the whites. When a town meeting was summoned to determine what to do with the white men, Okonkwo stated, "I shall fight alone if I choose", (Achebe 201). If no- body would join him, Okonkwo would try to act so others might follow. Right after he killed the white