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To what extent would you agree with the idea that Chinua Achebe presents Okonkwo as a tragic hero caught up in the clash between two different viewws of the world?

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Introduction

THINGS FALL APART From the works of Aristotle, a writer of tragedy in the third century BC a list of six points has been produced, showing six essential qualities needed to make a true tragic hero within a tragedy. A tragic hero is, for example, like the character Macbeth, in Shakespeare's famous play "Macbeth". Macbeth is one of the Kings greatest men, until his greed for the throne overcomes him and he becomes an evil man. Most tragic heroes have a tragic flaw, Macbeth's was his desire for the throne. I agree entirely with the statement that Okonkwo is a tragic hero for the reasons laid out below. One of Aristotle's characteristics of a tragic hero is that they must have noble stature. This is because a tragedy involves the fall of a hero, to fall; the hero must have a high position among people from which to fall. Okonkwo has a noble stature from which to fall. Okonkwo's father was seen as one of the lowest in his society, this was because he was in debt to many of the other villagers and because he did not grow many yams, a symbol of manliness. 'Unoka, (Okonkwo's father) the grown-up, was a failure.' Many in the society of Umuofia looked down upon Okonkwo's father, this greatly embarrassed Okonkwo and so he decided, from a young age not to be like his father. Even as a very young man Okonkwo established his fame, much more so than his father had ever done in his long years. Okonkwo made his fame by becoming a great wrestler, eventually throwing Amalinze the cat, the greatest wrestler for seven years. 'Okonkwo's fame had grown like a bush-fire in the harmattan.' This was the background position for Okonkwo great fame and over a long period of twenty years and more it grew. In the society of Umuofia, Okonkwo was considered one of the greatest men. ...read more.

Middle

This may be because he does not have Uchendu or any other close friends or relatives to advise him against the course of action or because he does not see any hope left. In this case the crime was the murdering of a representative of the district commissioner, a very powerful man in the African society at the time. To Okonkwo however, this was not an act of murder, but of war and personal defiance. Okonkwo inflicts the punishment upon himself and even lowers himself in the sights of his clan members. In both cases, his exile and suicide I think the crime exceeds the punishment. Okonkwo lowers the sights of himself in the eyes of his fellow clan members by committing suicide. This means that he cannot be buried as a normal person would be, he is disgraced. This shows how upset Okonkwo was. He lowered himself below the level of a dog in order to escape the consequences of his deeds against the white men. ' "You drove him to kill himself and now he will be buried like a dog......" ' The suicide of Okonkwo leads directly into another of Aristotle's points, Aristotle states that the tragic hero must have free choice within the matters of his life, even if fate presides over some matters, a free choice of sorts should be shown. The true tragedy is conveyed through the hero's actions, which course of action he chooses, one in preference to another. In "Things Fall apart" Chinua Achebe describes the character Okonkwo as having free choice in a great number of matters in his life, though a few major incidents could be described as fate, or destiny. For example; the exploding of Okonkwo's rifle was not his fault, it was an accident yet this set off a chain of events which , it could be argued, led Okonkwo to his final destiny. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even though Okonkwo does not know it, he will become a mere footnote in history, his society will no longer remember him as they have done of their ancestors for many years. And the new society, of the white man will only have a memory of him, a note in a book about a man, whom hung himself. Okonkwo is driven very low because he does not agree with the white man or his system of justice and conquering. The clash between two different views of the world is seen in the last chapter, it is almost as if one person from each side is representing them, Okonkwo for the Africans and the district commissioner for the Europeans. As was eventually the case in many parts of Africa, it is the view of the Europeans trying to create an ever-vaster empire that wins through, and that of the Africans slowly fades away. 'That must not happen in the dominion of our Queen, the most powerful ruler in the world.' Okonkwo and his people are gone, and a new age comes, yet it does not bring happiness to the African people, it brings much toil and labour. Even though the people of Umuofia in part agree with Okonkwo, they do not act, and so are controlled for many generations of white men. I believe that Okonkwo has all the characteristics of a true tragic hero; he is bold, strong-willed and indomitable, until the end. In the latter part of the book, Okonkwo loses the battle between that of his society and the new white mans society. ' "We should have killed the white man if you had listened to me" snarled Okonkwo.' I would agree entirely with the statement that Okonkwo is a tragic hero caught up between two different views of the world. Okonkwo realises he cannot win, against the power of the white man, he is weak and defenceless, yet he tries. 'Okonkwo was choked with hate.' James Lagden 23rd January 2003 1/1 Things fall apart essay ...read more.

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