Okonkwo As A Tragic Hero


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To answer this question, one must first know the definition of the tragic hero. A tragic hero, as defined by Aristotle is a character who is noble in nature, has a tragic flaw and discovers his fate by his own actions. In Things Fall Apart, a novel by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo can be considered a tragic hero because he meets all of Aristotle’s criteria by being a tragic hero by being a successful and respected leader in Umuofia, having a tragic flaw, and discovering his fate soon after his action. The first Aristotle’s criterion of the tragic hero requires that the character must be noble or a man of high status. In that sense, as described by Achebe, “Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond.


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Moreover, Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna, Nwoye’s close friend whom Nwoye calls “brother” who asks for Okonkwo’s help because “He was afraid of being thought weak” (Achebe, 43). By trying to be a strong person and deciding to kill Ikemefuna and beats his wives, Okonkwo not only weaken his relationship with his wives and Nwoye, but also hurts himself mentally. Most important, his violent and impulsive characteristics lead him to kill a court messenger from the British during the clan meeting which soon after leads Okonkwo to the discovery of his own tragic fate. The last Aristotle’s criterion for being a tragic hero requires that the character must discover his fate by his own actions. Okonkwo’s self-realization starts when he comes back to Umuofia after his seven years exile with a great plan.


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He also has a tragic flaw of a fear of weakness and failure that leads to him to several failings and ultimately, his suicide. Finally, he discovers his own tragic fate because of his impulsive murderer of the British court messenger during the clan meeting. Although Okonkwo starts his life as a successful man of Umuofia but because of his violent and impulsive characteristics, even the most successful man like Okonkwo can still falls from his grace. Things Fall Apart. Oxford: Heinemann, 1996.


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