"Looking at a kings mouth, said an old man, one would think he never sucked at his mothers breast." The old man was speaking of a fierce and young warrior known as Okonkwo in the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Okonkwo could be described on several cases an antagonist but he best fits the definition of Aristotle's specific theory of a tragic hero. Aristotle defines his theory in to five terms. Okonkwo does have a high status, does have a tragic flaw, does fall from grace, his downfall does increase his awareness and he does most certainly undergo great tragedy.
Aristotle states that a tragic hero "must come from nobility or occupy a high status position". Okonkwo did not come from wealth or success his father was "lazy and improvident and was quite incapable of thinking about tomorrow". But regardless of Okonkwo`s past, he soon became one of the most powerful men in Umuofia. One of the elders had recognized Okokwo`s success and how he "had risen suddenly from great poverty and misfortune to be one of the lords of the clan", Okonkwo was truly successful. What made Okokwo’s success even sweeter is that he had risen in spite of all odds. This is simply one example where Okonkwo fits the specifications of a tragic hero laid out by Aristotle's.
Aristotle states that the tragic hero "must exhibit a tragic flaw". Okonkwo may be known as a great warrior through out his tribe but he most definitely does have a tragic flaw. Okonkwo`s hatred of being like his father has made him brusque and arrogant with less successful men. His arrogance had ead him to never showing emotion or sympathy in public. When Okonkwo accompanied his tribes men to kill Ikemefua and they began to slay him, Okonkwo could not bear to watch. Then, as soon as the boy started to cry "father they have killed me...Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak". Okonkwo`s fear of being thought weak and his pride will lead to his tragic downfall. Once again, Okonkwo fits the specifications of a tragic hero according to Aristotle.
The third specification that Aristotle made states that a tragic hero must undergo "a reversal of fortune being that they fall from grace". Okonkwo most certainly does fall from grace and he falls hard. The man who once roamed his land as one of the lords of his tribe gets banished for a crime he commits by accident. "Okonkwo`s gun pierced the boys heart ..... the only course was to flee from the clan". This was the source where things started to fall apart. When Okonkwo got banished, he had lost everything; his land, his yams, his wives, his everything.
It’s rather ironic how the one act that lead to Okonkwo`s banishment was actually committed by accident. The crime he commits is a female crime?? because he commits it "inadvertently“. Okonkwo, over his life time had brutally murdered several men ruthlessly but the one act of violence that lead to his banishment was merely an accident. The irony behind Okonkwo`s banishment does not directly link to one of Aristotle's specifications of a tragic hero but it does evoke the readers emotion of pity, which is critical for a tragic hero.
The fourth specification that Aristotle lays out is relatively similar to the third one, "the hero has a downfall yet the fall is not pure loss. There is some increase in awareness". There aren't that many examples, where Okonkwo gains knowledge after a loss but rather he does gain awareness after his son decides to leave him. When Okonkwo found out that his eldest son had decided to convert religions and become Christian, he was enraged. This had infuriated Okonkwo so much and led him to beating his son savagely until he was told to stop. "He let hold of Nwoye, who walked away and never returned”.
When Okonkwo realizes that he had lost his eldest son to the "enemy", is a turning point for the plot of the story. After