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Okonkwo - A Tragic Hero (Book Review Sample)


The main protagonist of Chinua Achebe's famous book, things fall apart, has been described in many scholarly circles as a tragic hero. This paper briefly affirms this premise by explaining how Okonkwo ultimately became the tragic hero.


Okonkwo as the Perfect Example of a Tragic Hero
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Okonkwo as the Perfect Example of a Tragic Hero
A tragic hero is a literary character with heroic qualities doomed to a steep downfall by their mistakes. Their downfall ends up being the good jelly of the story and becomes a sacrifice of sorts. These heroes are also noble and incredibly flawed people. They also exhibit excessive pride and lapses of judgment. One perfect illustration of this premise is the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This literary masterpiece features Okonkwo, embodies the features of a tragic hero flawlessly. This paper aims to illustrate Okonkwo’s embodiment of a tragic hero.
Okonkwo was obsessed with the idea of achieving manliness. He ended up resenting everything that his father, Unoka, stood for because his father was lazy, gentle, and cowardly, which eventually led to his downfall. Okonkwo strives to be the exact opposite of his father and endeavors to be productive, violent, and hardworking. He resents all ideals that evoke emotion like the love of music and conversation; to avoid being soft like his father. He succeeded significantly, as he became wealthy and even married three wives (Chinua, 1958). When the white man finally arrives at Umuofia, Okonkwo realizes that his values are not so different from his father’s, as he becomes a mere heirloom that has no space in the shifting society. He is fond of manliness, which eventually leads to his decline, as manliness and inner emotions always conflicted.
Okonkwo also commits several irreversible mistakes. As is typical for tragic heroes, committing abominable actions sets the ball rolling for a leader’s decline, nobility notwithstanding. His masculinity led him to nurture a carefree character that deeply flawed him. During the funeral of Ezeudu, his gun goes off, killing a clan boy. Despite the circumstances, murder was considered a profoundly abominable act amongst the Igbo people. Okonkwo was then damned for punishment and subsequent exile (Chinua, 1958). His animals and property were also destroyed as he was also sent away for seven years. Okonkwo also exhibits his wild side by constantly berating the men and elders of his maternal home, claiming they were not masculine enough. For this reason, his exile becomes a perfect illustration of the beginning of his downfall.
Okonkwo was also a man of massive nobility and high status. Like all tragic heroes, he was well known and respected. He brought honor to his homeland by beating the famous unanimous wrestler, Amalinze the Cat. His name was sung throughout the nine villages. He was also an exceptional wrestler who did not fear any opponent (Chinua, 1

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