Okonkwo As A Tragic Hero

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The novel, Things Fall Apart, showcases the life of the Igbo people, a group in Nigeria that possess unique customs and traditions. The novel also follows the story of the main character, Okonkwo, and his village of Umuofia. As the story progresses with minor tribulations and problems primarily caused by Okonkwo, the arrival of white mercenaries is the main conflict of the plot, due to the threat they pose to the Igbo culture. The mercenaries eventually even lead to the shocking death of Okonkwo, though indirectly. Not only is this not a happy ending, but it also shows the destroying of a culture and a darker side to colonialism. Okonkwo is one of the only characters who see the threat the missionaries posed, and his resistance only lead to his ultimate death. Thus, Okonkwo can be considered a tragic hero due possessing the qualifying traits.
One of the requirements for a character to be a tragic hero is to be of noble ranking or to have a high status. In Igbo society, high rank is shown through the possession of titles. The more titles the greater, and men without titles were seen as worthless. All the great and respected men possess titles, and Okonkwo was a very respected man, even leading Umuofia. The novel supports this by stating, “he was already one of the greatest men of his time” (Achebe 8). The next requirement is hamartia; a fatal flaw that causes the hero’s demise.
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He is a character of high ranking whose fatal flaw, his fear of failure, leads to his shocking suicide. Not only that, his flawed actions lead to his son leaving and the loss of respect from his tribe. Finally, Okonkwo even has a moment of recognition when he realizes that his village is doomed. In other words, Okonkwo displays the traits of nobility, hamartia, peripeteia, hubris, anagnorisis, and catharsis. The plot of Things Fall Apart and the character of Okonkwo fit under Aristotle’s concept of a tragic

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