Things fall Apart and Okonkwo; A Classic Greek Tragedy and Tragic Hero

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Things Fall Apart and Okonkwo; A Classic Greek Tragedy and Tragic Hero

Both the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, and its main character Okonkwo closely adhere to the definitions of a classic Greek tragedy and a typical tragic hero. First of all, Okonkwo is a tragic hero by the Greek definition. While Okonkwo wasn’t born to a nobleman or king (as the definition of a tragic hero states), he was a man of high status and respect in his community, as Obierika stated near the end of the book. “That man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia.” (Achebe 208). Second, the novel follows the format of a Greek tragedy by presenting Okonkwo as a mixed character. He was a mixed character in that he was neither thoroughly good nor thoroughly
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Okonkwo knew how to kill a man’s spirit.” (26). His dismissiveness towards this man is just one example of his hubris. The next part of a Greek tragedy, is the tragic hero’s moment of recognition of “the truth of his situation and/or of his identity.” Okonkwo’s moment of recognition came when he realized that his people weren’t going to fight back against the white men and their religion. The arrival of these foreigners and their strange religion had brought the death of his clan and way of life with them. “Okonkwo was deeply grieved. And it was not just a personal grief. He mourned for the clan, which he saw breaking up and falling apart, and he mourned for the warlike men of Umuofia, who had so unaccountably become soft like women.” (183). At this point in the story of Okonkwo, he realizes the grim truth about the fate of his culture and people. Finally, Things Fall Apart, the story of Okonkwo, adheres to the model of a classic Greek tragedy in that it has a final katharsis, or “tragic representation of suffering and defeat that leaves an audience feeling, not depressed, but relieved and even elevated,” (Greek tragedy and tragic hero explanation sheet). Things Fall Apart’s katharsis, or emotional relief came when Okonkwo killed himself. Although such an event may seem like something that would make the reader feel defeated and depressed, it was through his suicide that Okonkwo made one final protest or stand against the white man. His suicide also allowed him
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