Theme Of Okonkwo As A Tragic Hero In Things Fall Apart

1129 Words5 Pages
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe adheres to the structure of many classical Greek tragedies. While there are numerous themes intertwined throughout the book, one major outstanding theme in the novel involves Achebe’s protagonist – Okonkwo: a brutal yet ambitious individual, who serves as the tragic hero. Although Okonkwo is not born a king, he is not much unlike the protagonists in some classic Greek tragedies; he is the epitome of a tragic hero like Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, with whom some may consider to be the ideal example of a tragic hero. According to Aristotle, the basic characteristics of a tragedy include the following: hamartia, hubris, peripeteia, catastrophe, anagnorisis, and nemesis, among others. Many of these tragic elements…show more content…
For instance, we know that Okonkwo was exiled for seven years after he shot and killed a boy at a funeral, and he is not happy about his exile; it causes him to become passive and depressed, especially following Ikemefuna’s death. However, Okonkwo’s ultimate downfall was a direct result of the changes within his culture due to the presence of European missionaries and Christian doctrine. The presence of the European missionaries and destruction of Umuofian traditional culture is an example of the nemesis. Okonkwo knew these changes were occurring, and they only serve to exacerbate the tragic flaw present within Okonkwo. Just as he perceived his son as weak and lazy for converting to Christianity, so too does he perceive Christianity itself as weak. This realization will lead him once again to his violent and brutal nature – Okonkwo devised a retaliation plan to kill missionaries and burn their churches. Okonkwo’s clan did not agree with his ideas, so they burn a church. Later, Okonkwo was invited to talk to the District Commissioner, and was ambushed and imprisoned. In prison, Okonkwo is beaten, and, upon his release, he vows revenge yet again. During a conference, Okonkwo let his hubris win again – he killed another person: a messenger sent by the District Commissioner. The Umuofian clan did not support Okonkwo’s behavior, and this led him to commit
Get Access