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Gender Roles In Things Fall Apart Essay Ideas

Below you will find three outstanding thesis statements / paper topics for “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe that can be used as essay starters. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in “Things Fall Apart” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements for “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe offer a short summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay. Before you begin, however, please get some useful tips and hints abouthow to use PaperStarter.comin the brief User's Guide…you'll be glad you did.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Tragic Hero and “Things Fall Apart” as a Tragedy

“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe follows the classic model of a tragedy and can be compared to several works, particularly works from antiquity such as Oedipus the King and stories from Shakespeare such as Macbeth and Hamlet. One of the reasons why this is a tragedy and can be related to so many other tragic works is because the main character, Okonkwo, fits the classic example of a tragic hero. A tragic hero is, by short definition, someone who falls because of a tragic flaw and not necessarily because he is a “bad” or evil person. For this essay, do a character analysis of Okonkwo and map the ways he is a tragic character. For help with this essay, you might want to look back to other works or find ways Okonkwo has good intentions but because of his flaws (pride, anger, etc) cannot see a positive resolution to his troubles. For more assistance with this topic, check out this article on the tragic nature of Okonkwo compared to another tragic character from literature, Oedipus.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Importance of Customs and Traditions in “Things Fall Apart”

Throughout “Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the role of customs and traditions is incredibly important and decides the fate of men, women, and children. Some of the customs practiced in this culture would certainly be frowned upon in the West yet are perfectly acceptable. For instance, the idea that a child should be murdered or that the spirits of the dead must be appeased can have grave consequences for some characters. For this essay, examine the role of customs and traditions in “Things Fall Apart” and consider why these might be important to this culture (for instance, think about how they all have to do with the natural world and natural forces—appropriate since they live in the open and are prone to threats). Furthermore, this essay might also want to integrate how these customs changed after the whites and colonialism came. For an essay that changes this theme slightly, you might also want to consider the question of whether the customs and traditions of Igbo society do more harm than good. If you follow this route for an essay, remember not to be ethnocentric and not make value judgments on their beliefs, instead just examine if such customs cause more problems than they solve using the text (not fully opinions) as your support.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Role of the Supernatural in “Things Fall Apart”

While themes stemming from the influence of the supernatural can be connected to the above essay topic for “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, an essay could quite easily be developed along the lines of the importance of the supernatural. A good thesis statement for this essay would state that matters related to the supernatural world drive the action of the plot throughout “Things Fall Apart.” This is not just because of the practices and beliefs of the Igbo society, but also those that the white man brings with him. Throughout “Things Fall Apart” there is a tension between what the supernatural world means and the differences in viewpoints on this matter are the prime source of conflict outside of issues stemming from Okonkwo's character flaws. For this essay, you will want to find examples of differences in opinion on supernatural matters and how this tears the community apart. For this essay, don't just concentrate on sections after the arrival of the white missionaries, look at hints of this theme before that, such as differences in opinion on tribal beliefs and customs. Also consider the differences between even like-minded men such as Mr. Brown and Mr. Smith.

Other ideas for thesis statements on “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe can be gleaned by reading the following openly accessible articles : Women, Colonization & Cultural Change in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe • History, Narrative and Culture in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe • Comparison of Tragic Characters in Things Fall Apart and Oedipus the King •

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Gender Roles In Things Fall Apart, By Chinua Achebe

Upon an initial reading of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, it is easy to blame the demise of Okonkwo’s life and of the Umofia community on the imperialistic invasions of the white men. After all, Okonkwo seemed to be enjoying relative peace and happiness before then. He did have a few mishaps; one of them resulted in him being exiled for eight years. Nonetheless, he returned to his home town with high spirits and with prospects of increased success. However, everything has changed. The white men have brought with them a new religion and a new government. Okonkwo’s family falls apart. The men in his village lose their courage and valor; they do not offer any resistance to the white men. Consequently, Okonkwo kills himself in disgrace and Umofia succumbs to the white men. However, the white men are not the only people responsible for demise of Umofia. The Igbo culture, particularly their views on gender roles, sows the seed of their own destruction. By glorifying aggressive, manly traits and ignoring the gentle, womanly traits, Umofia brings about its own falling apart.

In Umofia, manliness is associated with strength and womanliness with weakness (Okhamafe 127). There is no such thing as a strong woman, and all men should disdain weakness. In Umofia, “all men are males, but not all males are men” (Okhamafe 126). Only the strong men who hold titles deserve to be called “men”. The Igbo word “agbala” is an alternate work for “woman” and for a man who had no title. Women in Igbo society are expected to act a certain way. Okonkwo scolds his daughter, Ezinma, when she does not “sit like a woman” (Achebe 44). He will not let Ezinma bring his chair to the wrestling match because it is a “boy’s job” (Achebe 44). Every aspect of Igbo culture is gender-coded. There are “masculine stories of violence and bloodshed” and there are “women’s stories” fit only for “foolish women and children” (Achebe 53 – 4). Even the crops were gendered (Okhamafe 127). Coco-yams, beans, and cassava were “women’s crops” (Achebe 23). Yam, the “king of crops”, was “a man’s crop” (Achebe 23). In Umofia, all that is desirable and admired is associated with manliness. Anything that is demeaning or scornful is considered to be womanly.

Okonkwo life is “dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness” (Achebe 13). When Okonkwo was a boy, his playmates teased him calling, saying that his father was agbala. Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, was lazy. He did not work on his farm; he died in great debt. He did not acquire a single title. He did not have a barn to pass down to his son. Unoka is a type of man who is scorned in Umofia. He is seen as weak and effeminate. As Okonkwo grows older, he is determined not become a failure like his father. His father was weak; he will be strong. His father was lazy; he will be hard-working. Okonkwo earned his fame by defeating the reigning wrestling champion. Okonkwo diligently plants yam, building a successful farm. He builds...

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