Okonkwo Vs. Oedipus

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade November 2001

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Okonkwo and Oedipus are two different people from two different cultures, but they are both tragic heroes. In the stories, Okonkwo and Oedipus are very important people and rules in their society. Granted, Okonkwo does not rule alone and Oedipus did. Like true tragic heroes they have a fall from grace. For one of the two, the fall drives him to his death.

Both of these men were leaders of their community. Even though Okonkwo didn't rule by himself, he was still a very important man to his tribe. On the other hand, Oedipus was HUGE part of his community. He slayed the jinx and became king. Both men ruled differently also. This could be as a result of them coming from two different societies. Okonkwo ruled with a harsh hand because that was the thing to do when some one did something wrong.

Like true tragic heroes, these men have a fall from grace.

When Oedipus fell, it was less obvious then when Okonkwo fell. Oedipus's fall began once he discovered that he killed his father and took over the thrown. He went into a deep depression and eventually gouged his eyes out. He eventually died of old age, but the end of his life was miserable. Okonkwo's fall was painfully obvious. The beginning of the fall was when he shot at his wife. The end concluded with Okonkwo hanging himself, because he couldn't take the Christianity any more.

It is ironic how both of these men's lives were good until some information was spread around that either tore them apart, ruined them, or both. Information getting to them is what led to the end of both Okonkwo and Oedipus. For Okonkwo it was Christianity. When Christianity moved into his area and started taking over, he just gave up. The information that the Christians were preaching, made so much sense that many people began to convert. This effected Okonkwo in a big way, especially when his own son converted. Eventually, after many failed efforts to stop Christianity, he hangs himself. Oedipus on the other hand never actually killed himself. When Oedipus found out that the king was dead, he sent men to find the man who did it. The irony of this is that Oedipus did kill the king just didn't know it. Once word got around that Laius was Oedipus's father, he was ruined. In spite of all that was going on, he gouged out his eyes and eventually died.

In the end, Oedipus and Okonkwo turned out to be very similar and also, very different. For each of the characters They both had a fall from grace, they were both some sort of leader, and were both entangled en irony. The lives of Oedipus Rex and Okonkwo were great until the end. I guess things just fell apart for both of them.