A Great Man, Tragic Hero A tragic hero is a archetype who fails to overcome or surpass his/her conflict. The book “Things Fall Apart” included a tragic hero. The book was written by the name of Chinua Achebe. The tragic hero in the book was Okonkwo, a warrior from a village called Umuofia. Chinua Achebe wrote the book with the purpose of showing how someone with high esteem can fall from greatness so dramatically because of that person’s actions. Okonkwo exhibited hubris, had a tragic flaw, and fell from a position of greatness.
These were the things that showed that he was tragic hero. An important aspect of a tragic hero is their exhibition of hubris (a Greek term, which means pride).
Okonkwo portrayed this quality different times during the course of the book. One instance when he showed hubris is when the village elders gave the missionaries land in the Evil Forest. The elders gave them the land because they thought that the gods would punish the Christians for occupying that land. But, after a while, the Christians were still there unscathed, showing that the gods are ineffective.
But because of Okonkwo’s pride he still believed in his gods and persecuted the Christians (page 151).
This action showed hubris because his pride was too great to realize that his gods didn’t have power and weren’t real. Another time where Okonkwo showed hubris is when he failed to heed to his maternal elder’s advice. Okonkwo’s uncle told him that the problem with the community today is that the clan doesn’t work together as they did in his time (page 167).
The Essay on The Analysis of “Loser-hero”, “Tragic loser-hero” and “Failed loyalist hero” Archetypes in Japanese Literature
In the book “Warriors of Japan as Portrayed in the War Tales”, as the title suggests, author Paul Varley studies numerous war tales from hundreds of years of Japanese history, throughout the rise of the samurai warrior culture and the societal change that went along with it. From ancient war tales like the Shomonki to tales firmly in the medieval times like the Taiheiki, the changes in battlefield ...
This was a sort of warning to Okonkwo.
But later on in he book, Okonkwo went ahead and did things without the content of all the members of the clan. This was a major example of hubris portrayed Okonkwo that eventually led to his downfall. These examples of hubris shown by Okonkwo show how he is a tragic hero. Other than the portrayal of hubris, there is another quality of a tragic hero is their tragic flaws. A tragic flaw is that problem of a tragic hero that will cause his downfall. Okonkwo’s tragic flaw was his inability to control his emotions that might lead to violence. Okonkwo illustrated this flaw throughout the book.
In beginning of the book, Okonkwo third and youngest wife, Ojiugo went to get her hair plaited. She had forgotten to fix Okonkwo’s afternoon meal. Okonkwo’s anger grew inside of him because of this. When his wife returned, he couldn’t control his rage for any longer and proceeded to beat his wife during “The Week Of Peace” (a week when any type of violence is prohibited).
This action led to his punishment (pages 29-30).
Another exemplification where Okonkwo showed his tragic flaw is when he killed an messenger of the District Commissioner during a village meeting.
After the imprisonment and humiliation of the clan leaders at the hands of the District Commissioner, the clan leaders of the village decided to call a meeting to deliberate on the matter. The District Commissioner caught word of this meeting and sent his court messengers/translators to end their meeting. Okonkwo could control his anger because of the disrespect that was shown by the District Commissioner and his messengers. That rage compelled Okonkwo to attack and behead the District Commissioner’s lead messenger without notice (page 201).
This action was a major showing of his tragic flaw and ultimately the action that would lead to his downfall. This last aspect of a tragic hero is the aspect is usually the aspect that a tragic hero is widely recognized by. That aspect is his/her fall from greatness. Okonkwo fell from greatness in “Things Fall Apart”. Okonkwo’s position at the beginning of the book was said to one that many people wanted to attain. He was a man of many titles and a member of Umuofia’s famed and powerful clan council, the Egwugwu (page 1).
Okonkwo is portrayed as a tragic hero, in the novel Things Fall Apart. To uncover the source of Okonkwo's tragic flaw, a glimpse into his past is essential. At first, we see Okonkwo as an arrogant, hardworking, warrior. This is his cultures vision of a great citizen. His father, Unoka was thought of as a failure. He is lazy and does not provide for his family. His culture views him as an ...
But because of Okonkwo’s tragic flaw, which led to him to be exiled.
His titles and accomplishments were deemed to be useless and insignificant by the white men after their arrival to Umuofia (page 195).
If he were to be in his village during that time maybe he could have protected his village from their control. There is another instance when Okonkwo’s fall from greatness is seen. During Okonkwo’s early his was shown to be a very strong man, both physically and mentally. Because of this he was known throughout all the villages as a great warrior in wars. This is also seen when he beats the wrestler “The Cat”, was previously unbeaten in a wrestling match (page 39).
But because of his penultimate showing of his tragic flaw (uncontrollable rage), he is forced to kill himself to avoid punishment (page 207), which is the opposite of being strong mentally. These examples reveal his fall from greatness. A tragic hero is an archetype who fails to overcome or surpass his/her conflict. I think we see tragic heroes in literature because of what they can teach readers. The tragic hero of “Things Fall Apart”, Okonkwo exhibited hubris, had a tragic flaw, and fell from a position of greatness, all aspects of a tragic hero.
From the points and explanations that were given earlier in this essay, it has been proven that Okonkwo is in fact a tragic hero. This topic is important because it can happen to anyone with some type of power and esteem. It could be beneficial to think about tragic heroes because it could lead to the change of actions of well known and respected people because would gain a fear of a fall from greatness like what Okonkwo and many other tragic heroes in literature have experienced. Work Cited Page Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. 50th. New York: Anchor Books, 1959.