Achebe's Portrayal of Women in Igbo Society

Essay by oesiUniversity, Bachelor's February 2006

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Chinua Achebe's first novel "Things Fall Apart" is a story about an Igbo village in the late 1800's. In the story, Achebe depicts women in Igbo society as a sadly oppressed group with no power. Women of the Igbo tribe were terribly mistreated, and had no respect outside their role as being a mother or a wife. In the novel, the author "analyzes the destruction of African culture by the appearance of the white man in terms of the destruction of the bonds between individuals and their society"(Chun, par1). I noticed that in the story the author explains the role of women in pre-colonial Africa, by telling stories of how women handle their business in Igbo society. Most women in Igbo society "were primary educators of their children, and they cook and took care of the household"(Mbele par 2). Achebe highlights the roles of women in pre-colonial Africa, especially in Nigeria, through his female characters.

The female characters in the story are very obedient to males, and their lives are greatly affected by the desires of their husbands or fathers. I noticed in the novel that fathers sold their daughters off to marriage, and husbands beat their wives. Most men in Igbo society used tradition as a background to dictate women roles and lives. The Igbo society was a society that put a lot of emphasis on gender roles, and the importance of masculinity and violence, which resulted in the abuse of the female's character and the role of women as child barer.

The story Things Fall Apart depicts Igbo society during the late 1800's. One ting I know about women is that throughout time, especially during the nineteenth century, women were oppressed, and they were confined to the role of nurturing. In the Igbo society, patriarchy ruled...