Aristotle Doesn't Think Okonkow's a Tragic Hero!: A Look at Things Fall Apart
Brian R. Rose
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor
From Sophocles to Shakespeare, many of the finest writers have used the tragic hero as the center of their works. Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear-all revolve around that essentially good man who falls from grace. Chinua Achebe, in his breakthrough work Things Fall Apart, creates one of the most complex and enigmatic characters in literature, Okonkwo. But is he a tragic hero in the classical Aristotelian or Sophoclean way? Defined by Aristotle, a tragic hero is born of nobility, responsible for his or her own fate, endowed with a tragic flaw and doomed to make error in judgment. Eventually, the tragic hero will fall from grace, realize his/her mistake, accept death honorably and die tragically. Sophocles differed from Aristotle in that his tragic figures had no free will and their downfall was the result of divine intervention. This essay will examine if Okonkwo in fact meets these criteria.
Keywords: Okonkwo, Sophocles, Aristotle, Achebe, Chinua, Greek, hero, tragic
Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Location: VH 1320