Who Is Okonkwo A Tragic Hero

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Some would say the western world has always had a flawed view or understanding of Africa and African cultures. The author of Things Fall Apart; Chinua Achebe once wrote a paper on Joseph Conrad's “Heart of Darkness” and how it had a negative impact on the readers. He notes how “Heart of Darkness” sets up Africa as a foil to Europe and how this affecting a new generations view of Africa. In the paper he references some of the experiences he’s had with the so-called “ignorance” of the western word; “The young fellow from Yonkers is obviously unaware that the life of his own tribesmen in Yonkers, New York, is full of odd customs and superstitions and, like everybody else in his culture, imagines that he needs a trip to Africa to encounter…show more content…
Their flaw is also more commonly referred to as Hamartia (The tragic flaw that causes the downfall of a hero). Okonkwo, the main character and tragic hero of Things Fall Apart has very glaring flaws. One of Okonkwo’s flaws is his temper, that often gets the best of him. But Okonkwo's biggest flaw is his fear of failure as shown on pg. 12; “Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and weakness.” This fear often leads him to act harshly and violently towards others. This is shown when Okonkwo beats one of his wives on pg. 29; “And when she returned he beat her heavily. In his anger he forgot it was the Week of Peace.” This not only highlights his temper issues but also his Hubris. Hubris (excessive pride and disrespect for natural order) is the best way to sum up Okonkwo's flaws. In his anger, Okonkwo disregards the traditions of the culture he fights for, which we will get to later. The final factor in his flaws is his paranoia. Unoka (Okonkwo’s father) was such a bad role model that Okonkwo’s life pretty much revolves about not become like him. Okonkwo describes Unoka as “women like” which is clearly a demeaning term in his head, and this can be a reason why he treats his wives so bad. Ultimately, when Okonkwo let’s his flaws get the best him, he makes bad decisions that that stay with him throughout the book. These bad…show more content…
He uses the tragic hero format by giving Okonkwo the main characteristics of tragic heroes of past, like Oedipus. Okonkwo has flaws, has a self-caused Fall, the influence of forces, and nobility. His use of the tragic hero assured that he would capture the western audience so he could inform them on an issue he cares so much about. You can see Achebe is attached to these issues, as he once said; “The last four or five hundred years of European contact with Africa produced a body of literature that presented Africa in a very bad light and Africans in very lurid terms.” In conclusion, Achebe successfully educates western audiences about what African culture is really like, as opposed to the flawed perspectives of the
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