Okonkwo Tragic Hero

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Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, tells the story of Okonkwo’s accomplishments and his demise. Okonkwo is determined to become a lord of the clan, but he encounters several setbacks along the way. At eighteen, Okonkwo becomes significant in his society due to his wrestling victories and various other achievements. Soon, his success goes to his head and he begins to make bad decisions and ignore the gods. He is punished for his actions and eventually he commits suicide. Each of these things shows that the character of Okonkwo is a perfect example of Aristotle’s tragic hero.

Okonkwo’s story begins with demonstrations of his great pride and various accomplishments that help him to become an important member of the tribe. One of his first accomplishments is becoming a renowned wrestler: “As a young man of eighteen he had brought honour to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat” (Achebe, 3). Amalinze had been undefeated for several years and this shows that Okonkwo is a force to be reckoned with, even at such a young age. Okonkwo also shows his wealth and strength with his “large compound… long stacks of yams… [and] his three wives and eight children” (10). Property, yams, and family are all instrumental in securing the value of a man in Ibo society, and Okonkwo has all of these things. Despite beginning his life with disadvantages, Okonkwo becomes a great farmer. He was young, but also hard working and “he had begun even in his father’s lifetime to lay the foundations of a prosperous future” (13). Okonkwo approaches successful men who trust and believe in him for help, and they know that by helping Okonkwo, he will give back to the tribe in the future. Wrestling, property, and farming are important in the Ibo tribe. By achieving these things, Okonkwo becomes an important leader in his society.

Okonkwo is essentially a good man, but he is often too proud of himself, which makes him capable of making bad decisions and displeasing the gods. The sacred...
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