Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is a tragedy about the downfall of Okonkwo, a Nigerian tribesman.
Okonkwo is a tragic hero in the classical sense: he is a great and noble man who falls from grace because of his tragic flaw (in this case, his Pride).
Achebe does an excellent job of showing how Okonkwo’s Pride leads to his downfall. For example, when Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna, a boy from another tribe who has been living with Okonkwo’s family, he does it out of pride. He is afraid that people will think he is weak if he doesn’t kill the boy, even though he has grown to love him.
This tragic flaw ultimately leads to Okonkwo’s undoing. When he kills a messenger from the colonial government, he knows that there will be consequences, but he does it anyway out of pride. This ultimately leads to his exile and, eventually, his suicide.
It is possible to understand the problem of striving to be the greatest, and how it may lead to one’s untimely death. A tragic hero is a great guy; he’s brave, yet he has that one flaw that makes him relatable to the audience. It’s called a tragedy if you can discover a tragic hero in a narrative. A drama in which the tragic hero suffers an unfortunate end is known as a tragedy. The tale focuses on a tribe in Nigeria and an exceptionally revered leader who falls from grace.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, is the story of a tragic hero, named Okonkwo. Okonkwo was born into poverty and had to watch his father do nothing with his life but be lazy. Okonkwo strived to be the opposite of everything his father was and he became one of the most respected men in his tribe.
He had many wives and children, was well known for being strong, and he even had titles. In Igbo culture, having titles means everything because it shows how wealthy and respected you are in society. Things were going great for Okonkwo until European colonists came in and disrupted their way of life. The novel depicts how the cultural collision between the Igbo and the Europeans led to the ultimate downfall of Okonkwo.
Okonkwo’s tragic flaw was his fear of being like his father. This is what led to his downfall because he was always trying to prove that he wasn’t like him. He was so worried about looking weak that he would overcompensate and do things that made him look strong, even if it meant breaking the rules. For example, he killed Ikemefuna even though the oracle said not to. This ultimately led to his banishment from his tribe for seven years.
Although Okonkwo was a great man, he still had that one flaw that made him human. His flaw led to his demise, which makes him a tragic hero. Things Fall Apart is a tragedy because it depicts how a great man can fall from power due to his own flaws.
Considering all of these characteristics, the story Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a prime example of a tragedy. Even the book’s main character, Okonkwo, could be classified as a tragic hero. The novel meets the criteria for being called a tragedy because the protagonist—a man of greatness—faces an unfortunate end. Okonkwo started out with almost nothing and turned it into successful farm that supported his large family consisting of three wives and many children.
He was even looked up to as a great man in his village, Umuofia. As the novel goes on, Achebe reveals to us that Okonkwo is not only a tragic hero, but he is also a very flawed one. One of Okonkwo’s many flaws is his fear, or should I say his lack thereof. He does not fear death and will do whatever it takes to avoid looking like a coward, even if it means disobeying the gods.
This becomes evident when he kills Ikemefuna, a boy who had been living with his family for three years and whom Okonkwo had grown to love as a son. Although the Oracle had said that Ikemefuna must be killed, Okonkwo went against it because he did not want to look like a coward. In the end, Ikemefuna was killed and Okonkwo’s conscience bothered him for a long time.
Okonkwo’s fearlessness lead to his downfall when he took part in the killing of the District Commissioner’s messenger. This act resulted in his banishment from Umuofia for seven years. While in exile, Okonkwo’s family suffers greatly. His farms are not being tended to and his wives are not receiving the proper care and attention that they need.
Things begin to unravel for Okonkwo and we see his tragic flaw of rashness come into play once again. In an attempt to prove his manliness, Okonkwo participates in a fight which he was warned not to and as a result, he kills a man. This act leads to his eventual demise when he is killed by the colonialists.
So, we have established that Things Fall Apart is a tragedy and that Okonkwo is a tragic hero. But the question still remains, is Okonkwo a sympathetic tragic hero? In my opinion, yes. I believe that we as readers are meant to feel sympathy for Okonkwo because of his tragic flaws.
He is such a proud man who only wants to be seen as strong and fearless but his fearlessness leads to his downfall. His rashness gets the best of him time and time again and in the end, it costs him his life. We see a man who started with nothing and built himself up to be a great man, only to have it all come crashing down. I think that is something we can all sympathize with.
He became one of the egwugwu, which is one of the highest ranks in Umuofia. Okonkwo’s popularity and glory began to diminish as soon as he started to fall off “his rocker,” even though he was a seasoned and obstinate man. His village was being invaded by the British. Okonkwo, being the stoic and stubborn individual that he is, could not longer bear witness to his people’s culture being scraped out beneath his feet.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a novel written to display the effects of colonialism on African culture. The protagonist, Okonkwo, goes through many challenges which lead to his eventual demise. He faces many obstacles and makes many errors in judgement which could be argued make him a tragic hero in Greek tragedy fashion.
Okonkwo’s first fatal flaw is his temper. Whenever he gets angry he cannot control himself which leads him to do things he would not normally do such as kill people. In the novel Things Fall Apart, there is a scene where Okonkwo beats his wife for not having dinner ready when he returns home from exile. “He had counted on the yam storage and she had let him down. It was an abominable thing for a wife to do” (Achebe 135).
This is one of the first instances in the novel where we see Okonkwo’s temper get the best of him. He beats his wife even though she was not the one who did anything wrong, it was her children. However, because he was so wrapped up in his anger he could not think straight and ended up taking it out on the wrong person. If Okonkwo had been able to control his temper this would not have happened.