Comparative Analysis: Oedipus&Okonkwo

Topics: Things Fall Apart, Tragedy, Chinua Achebe Pages: 3 (1236 words) Published: November 13, 2012
Comparative Analysis: Oedipus & Okonkwo
Okonkwo from a strict African culture and Oedipus from a Grecian society in 400 B.C. are oddly not too different from each other. Through Oedipus and Okonkwo’s downfall both represent the qualities of a tragic hero and the show their process of self-actualization. Things Fall Apart written by Chinua Achebe depicts the life of Okonkwo and the honor he has strived for in his village is quickly falling apart. In Oedipus Rex written by Sophocles is ended by complete tragedy in Oedipus knowing his fate. A tragic hero’s journey is like an ocean wave; the waves become rougher at the end of the day and calms by morning. At the ending of both Things Fall Apart and Oedipus Rex it is clear that both have achieved self-actualization driven from their tragedies.

Both Okonkwo and Oedipus were of noble stature in their societies. Okonkwo was shown as a high member in his society and Oedipus was the king. “And so although Okonkwo was still young, he was already one of the greatest men of his time.” (Achebe 8) They are both well known in their societies. “Here I am myself – you all know me, the world knows my fame; I am Oedipus” (Sophocles 264) Even with their greatness, they were not perfect people. Okonkwo refused to fail and show weakness. He believed it weakness and to show fear was womanly. This caused him to be brutal and show barely any kindness. “His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children.” (Achebe 13) Oedipus like Okonkwo was also imperfect. “Laius- how did he look? Describe him. Had he reached his prime?” (Sophocles 296) He pretends that he wants to find the person who has murdered Laius when in fact he was doing it in selfishness. Oedipus was selfish, his motive to portray himself as a selfless king was to only make himself look better. Both Oedipus and Okonkwo share the first two tragic hero qualities.

Oedipus and Okonkwo’s tragic flaws result in...
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