Okonkwo-Tragic Hero

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Okonkwo as a Tragic Hero

We love heroes in our society. Whether Superman, an athlete, a soldier, or someone else, we look up to these people and admire these people all the time. They're our heroes, right? In Ancient Greece, however, Aristotle came up with a different type of hero in literature, the tragic hero. Aristotle documents the path of a tragic hero through four steps, starting with nobility, then flaw, forces, and fall. In Chinua Achebe’s book, Things Fall Apart, the main character, Okonkwo, is portrayed as a tragic hero.

Okonkwo definitely fits in the nobility portion of the tragic hero journey. A tragic hero begins with nobility, in Okonkwo’s case due to his high stature in the society. The story alludes to this in the first paragraph of the book, saying “Okonkwo was well known throughout the 9 villages and even beyond. His fame rested on his solid personal achievements.” He had earned this reputation from defeating Amalinze the Cat in wrestling as a young man, and it is said that “Okonkwo was as slippery as a fish in water,” and that helped him defeat the Cat in the end. Beyond his athletic achievements, he had started his farm from nothing, instead getting seeds from an extremely wealthy man, Nwakibe. Nwakibe gave Okonkwo many seeds in order to start his farm, saying, “It pleases me to see a young man like you these days when our youth has gone so soft. Many young men have come to me to ask for seeds but I have refused...but I can trust you. As our fathers said, you can tell a ripe corn by its look.
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He followed they entire tragic hero journey, beginning with nobility, through his fame and high standing, had a flaw, his fear of weakness, was influenced by the missionaries, an outside source, and experience quite the fall, ending in his suicide. Despite definitely not being the type of hero we would all want to look up to, but he definitely was, as Aristotle described, a tragic

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