The role of a tragic hero within a story line is essential in a dramatic film or written work. The hero has the standards of becoming a great character that can take charge of the story through courageous action and bold dialogue. However, since the character is deemed a “tragic” hero, his flaws will ultimately be his downfall, usually leading to the characters own demise. Nowhere is this ideal of a tragic hero more relevant that in Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart.
The story is set in late nineteenth-century in a small village in Nigeria. The tragic hero in this case is a young man named Okonkwo. He is a dynamic growing character but is doomed from the beginning of the story with two major flaws that in the end will destroy his character. Okonkwo cannot physically display any of his emotions because he thinks it is a sure sign of weakness. His second flaw is that if and when he does show any emotion, it is an uncontrollable rage. Both of these flaws will get Okonkwo into trouble that he cannot handle.
Okonkwo has been taught from a very young age that showing his emotions is a feminine characteristic, a sign of weakness within his culture. This is brought about because when Okonkwo was a child his father was not very involved with the community or with the elder counsel. The community is the most important aspect of everyday life for Okonkwo’s people. The village does not have a centralized government, but it is does have democratic ruling through the elder males (Ohadike xxii). Since Okonkwo’s father was lazy and drank too much, he did not receive any respect from the majority of the community. Okonkwo did not want this for himself so he always displayed a tough exterior so that he could have respect.
This characteristic is clearly shown throughout the story. One such example is when Okonkwo becomes very fond of a boy that is in his care. Even though he likes the boy, Ikemefuna, he still treated him “as he treated everyone else – with a heavy...
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