Okonkwo a tragic hero
Is Okonkwo a tragic hero? To answer that question one must start by defining the term ‘tragic hero’ first introduced by Aristotle. Aristotle defined a tragic hero simply as being a character fulfilling three different requirements. The character must be larger than life, and must have a high social standing. The character must also have ordinary human qualities, and must have a tragic flaw that leads to his downfall. In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, all these characteristics are found in Okonkwo of Umuofia.
The first characteristic of a tragic hero according to Aristotle’s definition is that the character must be larger than life. The character must be better or greater than his fellows in the sense that he is of a higher than ordinary social significance. In that sense we find that Okonkwo was a very strong wrestler and that his strength had brought fame to him along with his town,
“Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements. As a young man of eighteen he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat. He was called the Cat because his back would never touch the earth. It was this man that Okonkwo threw in a fight which the old men agreed was one of the fiercest since the founder of their town engaged a spirit of the wild for seven days and seven nights … That was many years ago, twenty years or more, and during this time Okonkwo’s fame had grown like a bush-fire in the harmattan” ( Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, page 3)
From this text we can see how Okonkwo was a larger than life character in the terms of his physical strength and wrestling abilities. Also it is obvious that his victory over the Cat, who has been previously undefeated, had raised him to a higher level of popularity. The text in the first few chapters suggests that Okonkwo had a high social standard not only in the shape of titles, but as being the most...