Written Character Analysis Okonkwo as a Tragic Hero

In the novel Things Fall Apart written by Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian writer, the main character is Okonkwo, a person who is considered to be a leader in the African society. He is a wrestling champion in Umuofia which is located in Nigeria and inhabited by the Igbo (The Norton Anthology of Western Literature 2391).The major goal of the author is to represent the main character’s family and personal history, to discuss the customs and traditions of the Igbo, and to pay the readers’ attention to the role of British colonialism and numerous Christian missionaries in the African community during the late nineteenth century.  The main character Okonkwo is portrayed by the author as a true tragic hero because he possesses almost all Aristotle’s characteristics of a tragic hero.

First of all, Okonkwo is considered to be a protagonist in the novel. He is a courageous and strong man. Moreover, he is an arrogant warrior who can be regarded as a man of noble stature what coincides with Aristotle’s characteristics.

Secondly, Okonkwo’s excessive pride makes him experience a number of tragic flaws throughout the novel Things Fall Apart, which in the end lead to his tragic death. It means that he is a good character, but not perfect, and his fall is the result of his “acts of injustice”. It is known that Okonkwo uses his violence towards many people in the community, including his family members, the killing of Ikemefuna and decapitating the District Commissioner.

Thirdly, the main character’s downfall can be regarded as his own fault. It is the result of his free choice. Okonkwo is hard with his family members, including his son Nwoye, his wives. Okonkwo does not show his inner feelings and emotions. Besides, he is impatient with other people who are weak and unhappy. Okonkwo has negative relation to women whom he considers the men’s possession. He calls one of the men at the community meeting a woman saying, “this meeting is for men”. He even shoots at one of his wives, but he misses.

Fourthly, it is possible to conclude that the main character’s misfortune does not wholly deserve the punishment, because Okonkwo has positive relation to Ikemefuna, the boy that was not his natural son, but who loves Okonkwo as if he is his father. However, he kills this boy. He also kills Ezeudu’s son during the funeral ceremony. The tribe makes a decision to dismiss Okonkwo from the tribe for seven years.

Fifthly, the tragic fall of the main character results in the protagonist’s death. This is one of Aristotle’s characteristics of a tragic hero. Okonkwo kills himself because he understands that his tribe is against him.

Sixthly, the novel arouses solemn emotions and pity, as Okonkwo kills many people and then commits suicide, but the novel does not leave the audience in the state of depression. This literary work makes the audience to experience catharsis (The Norton Anthology of Western Literature 2392).

To sum up, the main character in the novel Things Fall Apart can be regarded as a tragic hero because his characteristics coincide with Aristotle’s characteristics of a tragic hero.

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