2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

A Zulu Chief as the Tragic Hero: Thomas Mofolo’s Representation of Chaka Caught in Hamartia
Sara L. Shelden
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Thomas Mofolo’s historical novel Chaka (1981) mythologizes the rise and fall of the great Zulu leader, Chaka. Chaka is born with many heroic qualities such as his noble ancestry, supernatural powers, superior physical traits, and fearlessness as a warrior. Chaka’s characteristics lead him to power, but his fate is sealed by Hamartia as he pushes his authority too far and gradually becomes a tyrant where once he had been a great chief. Although there is evidence that Chaka may change his destructive ways, he is murdered before a metamorphosis can take place. This paper will argue that the representation of Chaka in the novel follows a Greek tragic paradigm in which his heroic characteristics lead him to a single-mindedness that results in his loss of humanity, ultimately causing his demise.

Keywords: Chaka, epic hero, destruction, power, Mofolo, Zulu, Hamartia


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 42-4
Location: OP 2115
Time: 2:00 pm

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