Oedipus and Okonkwo

Topics: Tragedy, Oedipus, Things Fall Apart Pages: 5 (1241 words) Published: June 16, 2014
Adam Kelley
Mrs. Grimaldi
English II AC
13 June 2014
Two Tragic Hero’s
A tragic hero is a great or virtuous character in a dramatic tragedy who is destined for downfall, suffering, or defeat. Oedipus and Okonkwo are both fantastic examples of a tragic hero because they have it all in the beginning and then they both fall. In the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo is a man from the village Umofia; he has many wives, a famous wrestler, and a big yam plantation. In the play Oedipus the King by Sophocles, Oedipus is a man from Corinth who runs away from his homeland in fear of a prophecy from Apollo that Oedipus will murder his father, and his mother will become his lover. After running away, Oedipus defeats a mighty and powerful sphinx to become the king of Thebes and marries the Queen of Thebes, Jocasta.

Two of the conventions of a traditional Greek Tragedy are Hamartia and Hubris. Hamartia is a fatal error or tragic flaw. Hubris is excessive pride or arrogance. Both Oedipus and Okonkwo’s hamartia are their hubris. When Oedipus says “Much as you want: Your words are nothing, futile” (Sophocles, 415-417). In this quote it shows that Oedipus is not willing to anyone else opinion, he thinks that everyone else is wrong and he is always right. Okonkwo’s hubris is showed in this quote when he gets mad over nothing important “Who killed this tree? Are you all deaf or dumb?” (Achebe, 38). In that quote, Okonkwo gets mad that someone killed a tree, when in reality nobody killed the tree. Okonkwo’s second wife had plucked a leaf off the tree to wrap some food in it. For that Okonkwo gave her a sound beating.

Aresteia is another convention of a traditional Greek tragedy. Aresteia means the moment of hero’s greatest success or accomplishment. Oedipus’s aresteia is when he becomes the ruler of Thebes. The citizens of Thebes are so grateful of Oedipus. “You freed us from the sphinx; you came to Thebes and cut us loos from the bloody tribute we had paid that harsh, brutal singer” (Sophocles, 44-46). In this quote it shows how the people of Thebes could not be any more joyful that Oedipus has set them free and is now their ruler. Okonkwo’s aresteia is when he becomes the best and strongest wrestler in all of the land “As a young man of 18 he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat. Amalinze was the greatest wrestler who for seven years was unbeaten” (Achebe, 6). In this quote Okonkwo’s story of great triumph is being told, showing how great of an honor it was to the greatest wrestler in all of the land.

Peripeteia, also a convention of a Greek tragedy is a reversal of fortune; when things begin to go very badly for the hero. Both Oedipus and Okonkwo’s peripeteia is when they kill somebody else. Things begin to go very badly for Oedipus when he realizes he is the one who killed Laius, the former ruler of Thebes who was murdered. “Oh no no, I think I’ve just called down a dreadful curse upon myself - I simply didn’t know!”(Sophocles, 819-821). All throughout the beginning of the play Oedipus is being accused by his brother-in-law Creon, of killing Laius. Oedipus thinks Creon is jealous of him and wants to take over the throne. Okonkwo’s peripeteia is while he is at the funeral of a well-respected elderly man, Ezeudu, they are firing off their guns in respect. Okonkwo’s gun misfired and killed Ezeudu’s 16 year old son. Okonkwo was exiled for 7 years. “In the center of the crowd a boy lay in a pool of blood. It was the dead man’s sixteen-year-old son.” (Achebe, 124).

Anagnorisis, a convention of a Greek tragedy is the moment of starting discovery; time of revelation when the protagonist realizes who he really is. When Oedipus discovers that his father Polybus, the ruler of Corinth, was in fact his adopted father, but now is dead. “Messenger- “Polybus was nothing to you, that’s why, not in blood.” Oedipus- “What are you saying? Polybus was not my father?” Messenger- “No more than I am....
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