Fear as Power

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The story of humanity is the story of the age-old struggle for power. People have always striven to control their circumstances, including controlling those around them. Chinua Achebe addresses this struggle for control in his novel Things Fall Apart. The first part of this novel follows Okonkwo as he establishes himself as leading member of his clan. He uses fear as a tool in asserting his dominance over his household. Throughout the novel, Okonkwo utilizes fear to maintain control of both his circumstances and his family members. The implementation of intimidation as a means of gaining power is explored in Things Fall Apart.

From the very beginning of the novel we see how Okonkwo uses his physical prowess to promote his personal success. He first big achievement was defeating a famous wrestler called Amalinze the Cat. “He was still young but he had won fame as the greatest wrestler in the nine villages…To crown it all he had taken two titles and had shown incredible prowess in two inter-tribal wars” (8). Okonkwo uses his size and strength to get what he wants, and this is shown throughout the novel. “Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children” (13). Okonkwo was quite prosperous, and this was partly due to his tyrannical treatment of his family members. He worked very hard himself, and required his family to work just as hard alongside him.

Thus, he used fear to gain power over his family. Okonkwo’s use of violence to enforce his wishes stemmed from his fear of becoming like his father, whom he considered a failure: “Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and weakness” (13). This fear of failure caused him to drive himself and his family very hard.

Okonkwo’s father left him nothing, so Okonkwo had to struggle for his livelihood from an early age: “It (earning a living) was slow and painful. But he threw himself into it like one possessed. And indeed he was possessed by the fear of his father’s contemptible life and shameful death” (18). Okonkwo was a strong man and did not tolerate other’s weakness or mistakes. This led him to use intimidation to enforce his control over them.

In his novel, Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe explores how people use fear as a way to rule over others. His character Okonkwo uses his personal fears to drive himself, and then imposes his will on other by using various methods of intimidation. He is unyielding in his pursuit of success, and he bullies anyone who stands in his way. He uses fear as a way to get what he wants and to bend others to his will. Okonkwo’s story illustrates the universal struggle for control of self and others.

Works Cited

  1. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books, 1959.

Cite this paper

Fear as Power. (2020, Sep 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/fear-as-power/

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