Analytical Analysis Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Essay by hunnyb_17College, UndergraduateA+, March 2004

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The story of Okonkwo takes place in the Igbo society during the turn of the 19th century. Aristotle defined the tragic hero as "a character who was superior and noble, one who demonstrates great courage and perseverance but was undone because of a tragic personal flaw in his character". He was a strong, proud, quick-tempered man, well known throughout the region as a great wrestler and a respect leader. (Achebe 3, 4) Okonkwo's life was dominated by the fear of failure and ultimately the fear of himself. (Achebe 13) But in the end, his weaknesses eventually destroy the life he has created for himself.

Okonkwo had many faults. He had a minor stutter and whenever he was upset and could not articulate quickly enough, he would use violence. (Achebe 4) His intolerance of laziness and improvidence was apparent. Showing any type of emotion with an exception of anger was considered a weakness.

His "insignificant" father, Unoka, was a weak-willed, indebted, flute-playing, charming, bankrupt, and irresponsible man who left Okonkwo no inheritance and achieved no titles of rank in the tribe. Okonkwo greatly prized masculine virtues and despised those like father.

But his greatest fault was his pride. He made himself successful from very poor beginnings, making him impatient of those who were not as victorious. To illustrate this point, during a meeting of the tribe's elders, he calls another man a woman or agbala with the intent of killing his spirit saying, "This meeting was for men (Achebe 27)." The man who disagreed with him had no titles, and so Okonkwo felt that he was not worthy enough to contradict him. Although the others at the kindred meeting took his side, Okonkwo still had to apologize to him for not being humble. (Achebe 27)

Okonkwo was tough and harsh with...