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A tragic hero is a person of superior status and qualities but suffers a setback of fortune as a result of main character flaws. In his book Things Fall Apart, Achebe displays several features of how the tragic hero, Okonkwo, represents the author’s personal characterization of the tragic hero. Okonkwo is seen as a tragic hero in the typical a classical sense because though he is has a superior personality, his tragic fault, and the issue of manliness with anger, violence, arrogance, and harshness results to his own annihilation.  

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Okonkwokos personality traits

Okonkwo, the major character in the book, expresses several stereotypical personality features of a hero. Achebe (27) states that, at an early age, Okonkwo had gained prominence as the best wrestler in the entire land. In Umofia village where he dwelled, as well as several other tribal villages, his name was held with high esteem.  Achieving this title was a massive indication of individual manliness. His manliness was also displayed in how excellently he performed in the war. Okonkwo was a man of action and a man of war who was not scared by war.

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 In his early life, he have displayed implausible abilities in two inter ethnical wars. Battle is where a young male usually becomes a hero. At an early age, Okonkwo supported his family other than his father Unoka. As a young teenager, Okonkwo had established a yams farm which helped him to survive through most horrible drought periods that tribal elders could remember. Because of accomplishing this at a young age, Okonkwo embraced the victory in his heart and turned out to be extremely arrogant in all aspects of his existence. This arrogance was focused around and in his tribe and everyday life. When in a gathering to talk about the ancestral feasts, Okonkwo stated that a man who had no title, was not supposed to be there because the meeting was meant for men (Achebe, 26).

Okonkwo believed that violence was the only way to enforce his laws is his home. He ruled his family with a hefty hand and his wives, particularly the youngest wife, and his little children lived in eternal panic of his fiery temper. He scorned his father for all things he did and also for the things he didn’t do and therefore when he realized any character of his father in his children, particularly his elderly son Nwoye he would hit him. According to Achebe, (13), at the age of twelve years, Nwoye was causing his father much anxiety because of his insipient laziness which he believed had been inherited from his father Onuka. Okonkwo therefore sought to correct his son by constant beating and nagging

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Okonkwos destruction

Okonkwos destruction was slowly revealed throughout the book. His incapability to be patient toward any person with a personality that resembled his fathers   was a steady revelation of his sanity and he had no patience with unsuccessful men. Okonkwo had matured very fast and had learned conservative opinions of elders prior to the coming of missionaries. His character did not permit change and his opinion was that effort, hard work and ones possessions on basis of material worth was the actual means of living and if one didn’t have these,  he weren’t worthy of his acknowledgement and praises (Achebe, 4).

 For Okonkwo, to observe the beliefs and values of tribal leaders be weakened by European culture and view total transformation of his society was incomprehensible. As it becomes clear that compliance other than violence forms the wisest decision for living, Okonkwo comprehends that he has to be relic, unable for function in his changing community, which makes him to hang himself.


Okonkwo as a tragic hero, has all behavioral traits of a hero, but have traits like violence and arrogance which causes his demise and terminates all his heroic traits. The death of Okonkwo through hanging himself portrays that his charter did not allow change and could therefore function within the beliefs imposed on Ibo culture by the missionaries.   

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