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Things Fall Apart, A Befallen Hero Analysis Essay Collegedale Academy, Great Books Analysis

676 words - 3 pages

Cha !1
Eunice Cha
Mrs. Macias & Mr. Pennell
Great Books
Title
According to Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher, a tragic hero is a character who sets
foot in a dramatic tragedy leading them to their downfall. In the novel, Things Fall Apart,
Achebe’s own definition of a tragic hero portrays through Okonkwo. Not only does Okonkwo
epitomize a tragic hero, but he meets Aristotle’s criteria with the traits of hubris, hamartia, and
peripeteia.
Hubris, excessive pride, shows through the actions of Okonkwo. Okonkwo’s pride stems
from the obvious differences between him and his father. He forbids himself to portray weakness
and as a result, he turns to his aggression as a substitute quality. Believing aggression equals
manliness, Okonkwo engages in irrelevant actions. Even though Okonkwo considers Ikemefuna
“like a son”, he refuses to show any sign of affection for him (Achebe 28). Okonkwo even takes
part in his murder killing him with no hesitation: “. . . ‘My father, they have killed me!’ as he ran
towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of
being thought weak” (43). His pride rises above everything and not even his fondness for the boy
stops him from showing any signs of fragility.
Aristotle’s criterion of a tragic hero states that a tragic flaw leads to the hero’s downfall—
hamartia. As a prisoner of his own superior-male culture, and as a consequence of his father’s
diminished ambition, Okonkwo’s paragon of masculinity produces his fear of weakness. His one-
track mind focuses on nothing but success. His hard work and expertise in war earns him a
tremendously high status in his village including an immense amount of wealth to support his
family. Not only does his fear drive him to success, but also leads him to act impulsively toward
Cha !2
other people, especially his family members. He expresses anger through brutality by beating his
wives without rationalization, and his stubborn behavior begins to divest him from...

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