What Drives A Man?

Essay by The Bad DogUniversity, Master'sA+, November 1996

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What Drives A Man

What makes a successful man? This, in itself, is a culture bound question because it can vary from culture to culture. However, in the perception of Okonkwo, the main character in Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart, the measure of a man's success is based on two elements, material acquisition and growth, and physical prowess. This is ironic for Okonkwo since his people's typical idea of success seems to be constructed of a complex, strong spiritual culture, seemingly able to deal in traditional ways with any challenge in nature and human experience. (Ravenscroft 9) Although Okonkwo is undoubtedly an important member of Umuofian society, he is not a typical representative of that society. (Taiwo 115) It is this basic dichotomy between Okonkwo and his own culture that directly lead to the tragic fall of Okonkwo, and ultimate disgrace.

I feel that it is important to note at this time that Things Fall Apart is a tragedy, and Okonkwo is a tragic hero.

For TFA to be a tragedy, it must follow the following pattern...

'A tragedy .. is the imitation of an action that is erious, has magnitude, and is complete in itself; in language with pleasurable accessories, each kind brought in separately in the various parts of the work; in a dramatic, not in a narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish it catharsis of such emotions'

Aristotle, Poetics

Okonkwo is a tragic hero because he is superior to the regular people of the tribe, 'Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond' he's an extremist, '.whenever he was angry and could not get his words out quickly enough, he would use his fists' (Achebe 3), he imposes his own reality on people, 'His wives, especially the youngest,