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Things Fall Apart: Awful Hero or Coward?


Things Fall Apart

Awful Hero or Coward? In Achebe’s book Things Break down Okonkwo is probably made out to be a “coward” due to the killing of the messenger and to himself. Many reader’s do not see that Okonkwo is no coward at all, but must be thought about a “terrible hero”. In the tribe of Umuofia, Okonkwo is considered to be the “greatest men of his time”(Achebe 8), his characteristics fit the meaning of a daily hero, which is a male of recognized guts, ability, and believed highly of for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

Okonkwo is a well respected male in the tribe and rises to the top really quickly “like a brush-fire in the harmattan”(Achebe 3) and at a young age; he is muscular, energetic, well appreciated, and wealthy. Achebe describes him as a guy who”had clearly cleaned his hands and so he consumed with the kings and seniors”(Achebe 8). But when Okonkwo’s weapon blows up and kills Ezeudu’s child, forcing Okonkwo into exile in his mother’s homeland, the reader here begins to see the down fall and start of Okonkwo’s way to changing his role as a well appreciated male to a “tragic hero”.

According to Aristotle, typical attributes of a tragic hero are,”generally of honorable birth, Hamartia: the awful flaw that eventually results in his downfall, peripeteia: a reversal of fortune produced by the hero’s awful flaw, his actions lead to an increase of self-awareness and self-knowledge, and the audience needs to feel pity and worry for this character.” (Characteristics being linked to Greek plays such as Oedipus Rex or Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, and numerous other plays or stories where there is a character in the story that is thought about to be a “awful hero”).

Although Okonkwo wasn’t born of a “noble birth” he gets compassion from the readers early in the book since of his hard work principles and his decision of not trying to be like his dad, who is thought about a “failure” in the people of Umuofia. Okonkwo’s pride is arguably seen as a defect which helps Okonkwo in eliminating Ikefuma. Another argument can be made that Okonkwo’s tragic defect is his manliness. According to spark notes, “Okonkwo is an awful hero in the classical sense: although he is a superior character, his tragic flaw– the equation of manliness with rashness, anger, nd violence– causes his own damage … For this reason, he frequently beats his spouses, even threatening to eliminate them from time to time. We are informed that he does not think about things, and we see him act rashly and impetuously.” Achebe’s even point out’s in the story that “He had a small stammer and whenever he was angry and might not get his words out quick enough, he would use his fists” (Achebe 4). Nevertheless both characteristics, that are conisidered terrible defects, loop to assist the reader better comprehend and assist support the qualities of an awful hero according to Aristotle.

The moment Okonkwo’s gun takes off and eliminates the son of Ezeudu’s, the readers starts to see that there is a “reversal in the fortune” in Okonkwo’s life. What lots of reader’s do not see is at this point the reader knows more about Okonkwo then he understands about himself. This starts when he gets to his mom’s homeland, Okonkwo is gotten warmly from his mom’s homeland and the reader gets a sense that things are going to be ok for Okonkwo and his family. However Okonkwo isn’t happy in being in a place where he is helpless and not rich.

He seems like his father, Unoka, who is thought about a failure, due to the fact that he is a guy who fears not only the sight of blood, however borrows and loses cash, and is considered a coward to guys in the tribe. When he shows up in his mom’s people and to Okonkwo, it is a big pull down. He also feel like he is in a place that he consider’s to be very “womanly”, so Okonkwo has a hard time to “concern terms with, the feminine side of his personality”. (Achebe) As the years passed and Okonkwo was rising to the top of his mother’s homeland.

The reader gets a terrific example of Okonkwo’s defects of rashness and anger come out when he learns that whitemen erased the Abame people which his really own child Nwoye had joined the missionaries. Okonkwo feels that the Abame tribe must have been stronger and eliminated all the whitemen. When Okonkwo becomes aware of his kid signing up with the missionaries he chokes Nwoye and asks him where he had actually been and even threatens to eliminate him. This is just a very first look that the reader see’s of how Okonkwo responds to the whitemen intruding the area of other people and his own family.

Although Okonkwo was doing great monetary and was well liked in his mother’s homeland. He still missed his homeland tribe of Umuofia and feels that in all the 7 years lost at Mbanta he might have “flourished even more in Umuofia”(Achebe 162). When Okonkwo finally went back to his own people of Umuofia after being banished for 7 years there has actually been much change to the people of Umuofia. Okonkwo understood his place was lost Achebe’s states that, “A man’s location was not constantly there, waiting for him. As quickly as he left, another person increased and filled it. (Achebe 171). As Okonkwo settles in he learns that the church has actually grown in strength and many of his bro’s and sis’s from the people delegated join the missionaries. He realizes that he can’t lead his “military tribe against the new faith”(Achebe 171) and was told he needs to “pick up speed”(Achebe 171). This is the very first sign to the reader that, they(the reader) see’s Okonkwo is beginning to see that he is becoming powerless and causing his “self-awareness” to rise and bring stress into Okonkwo’s mind.

When the Umuofia people does not offer much attention to Okonkwo’s return the reader begins to see the arguably “insaneness” beginning to surpass out of the mind of Okonkwo. He has been fantasying his return from the start of his exile and is nevertheless beginning to fill with more anxiety. Reader’s are beginning to see things breaking down in not just the tribe of Umuofia but likewise in Okonkwo himself. Okonkwo gets a little relief from the tension and stress and anxiety going on in his mind and the reader actually see’s a little joy in him when they burn down the church.

But when the District Commissioner pertains to the town and takes Okonkwo and the leaders prisoner. This is were readers see Okonkwo’s failure unravel rapidly. While being held prisoner of the missionary’s “judicial system”, Okonkwo loses it after being embarrassed by the whitemen. He tells his other people members,” we must have eliminated the white man if you had listen to me”(Achebe 195). The reader can see that Okonkwo is filled with hate specially towards the white man and he is simply a “ticking time bomb. Achebe’s also mentions it in the book, “Okonkwo was choked with hate”(Achebe 195). This is a turning point in the story and for the missionaries. When Enoch is encouraged by Smith to insult the standard Igbo culture by killing the “sacred python”and de-masking of the god, readers tend to think that this is where things begin to change. According to trigger notes the killing of the python, “emblematize the transition from the old order to the brand-new. Revealing the reader’s the missionaries are attempting to covert the Igbo and will do it no matter what it takes. One interesting statement likewise made by stimulate notes that the majority of readers do not catch while reading the book is, “Enoch figures as a double for Okonkwo, although they espouse different beliefs. They are similar in temperament, and each man rebels against the practices and traditions of his daddy. Like Okonkwo, Enoch feels above all others in his custom.

He likewise feels contempt for them– he imagines that every preaching is” ‘preached for the benefit of his opponents,'” and, in the middle of church, he provides knowing looks whenever he feels that his superiority has been affirmed. Essential, in his blind and unthinking adherence to Christianity, Enoch permits his violent desires to take over, just as Okonkwo is prone to do.” Things are rapidly altering for both Okonkwo and his people and reader’s can begin to feel “pity and fear for this character.” one of the most important qualities to a terrible hero, according to Aristotle.

As Okonkwo makes his way back to his people after being realized by the white men, the tribe and Okonkwo could feel the tensions growing between one another and the missionaries. As the meeting is called for the people to satisfy in the morning, Okonkwo is feeling a “bitterness in his heart was now mixed with a sort of childish excitement” (Achebe 199). Okonkwo is already comprised his mind on what he wants to make with the whitemen, while he lays in his bed he, “considered all the treatment he had received in the white male’s court, and he swore vengeance. “(Achebe 199).

Okonkwo’s mind set reviles Okonkwo’s awful characteristics, he even makes a statement prior to the conference, Okonkwo states,” If they listen to him (speaking about Egonwanne and his “womanish methods” about not battling in a war) I will leave them and plan my own revenge.” (Achebe 200). This quote alone shows the reader that Okonkwo is going to kill the white male no matter what his people decides to do and for that reason revealing his one terrible characteristic his sense of pride/manliness and letting it get the best of him triggering him to be a male who acts/makes decisions off of hostility very “impetuously. The killing of the messenger by Okonkwo is the one action in this book that plainly demonstrates how a male’s pride and sense of manliness highlights a human being who is too focused on his/her own values and can’t adapt to alter in his or her life. Which results in the terrible ending of the story when Okonkwo hangs himself in spite of understanding he and his tribe were no longer going to be the Umuofia but will end up like the Abame tribe.

According to stimulate notes, “One way of understanding Okonkwo’s suicide is as the outcome of a self-fulfilling prophecy concerning his fear of failure. He is so scared of ending up exactly the way he does end up that he causes his own end in the worst way possible. No one requires his hand when he slays the messenger; rather, the act makes up a desperate attempt to reassert his manhood. The excellent tragedy of the circumstance is that Okonkwo neglects even more reliable but less manly ways to withstand the colonialists.

Ultimately, Okonkwo’s sacrifice appears futile and empty.” If a Okonkwo never ever killed the messenger possibly his life may have not ended in disaster however he most likely may have never been considered a “awful hero” not to mention a hero at all. In the book Things Break down by Chinua Achebe the main character Okonkwo was to be considered a coward for committing suicide but with Aristotle’s views of a common “awful hero” Okonkwo has each and everybody of those qualities that makes him perhaps a Tragic Hero.

Work Cited Page. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York City: Anchor Books, 1959 (Achebe 210). “Things Fall Apart.” SparkNotes. N. p., n. d. Web. 19 Dec 2011 … “Components of a terrible hero.” Nuvvo. N. p., n. d. Web. 19 Dec 2011. “Things Break Down.” Cliff Notes. N. p., n. d. Web. 19 Dec 2011 … “Things Fall Apart.” The Best Notes. N. p., n. d. Web. 19 Dec 2011 … “Things Fall Apart.” Literature Resource Center. N. p., n. d. Web. 19 Dec 2011.

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