Compare Macbeth to Things Fall Apart
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Literary Comparison: Macbeth and All Things Fall Apart
Before doing our analysis, we shall offer a brief summary of both literary works, to get acquainted with their facts and characters.
All the Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The novel is about Okonkwo, a warrior of the Umuofia clan, a Nigerian tribe of the Igbo tribe. The man is a highly respected clansmen who has been struggling to clear his name after his father’s death, who died leaving many debts unsettled. Okonkwo has a son named Nwoye, but he considers him weak and thinks he will end just as his grandfather. Upon an arraignment with a neighboring tribe, he receives a virgin, and a boy called Ikemefuna to take care of. After seeing and knowing Ikemefuna, the man starts taking him in great esteem and considering him as the son he would have wanted to have. However, he shows no affection for the boy, despite he calls him father. Ogbuefi Ezedu, a respected elder, tells Okonkwo that Ikemefuna must be killed, but since the boy calls him father, he shall not kill him. That way, the warrior tells Ikeemefuna he must leave the tribe and return to his home village. In the middle of the road, the men attack Ikemefuna, and Okonkwo deals the killing blow, despite the elder’s admonitions. After that situation, the death of the elder Ogbuefi Ezedu is announced, and when Okonkwo goes to pay his respect to the deceased man, his gun explodes and kills Ogbuefi’s son. In the Igbo tribes, killing a clansman is a terrible offense, and Okonkwo must take his village in a seven years exile to cleanse his sin. Okonkwo begins to find peace in his new village, but a group of missioners come to it, with the idea of converting the tribe to Christianity. However, upon seeing that it was not going to be possible, they retreat. However, soon after, a convert unmasks a ceremonial statue, which enrages the tribe, and retaliate by burning the church. Soon after, the responsible are thrown into jail and released. The clansmen hold a meeting with the white missionaries and Okonkwo kills one of them with his machete. However, the rest of the warriors let the messengers escape. When the white authorities come to seize Okonkwo, the find he had hanged himself. The book ends with the District Commissioner saying that the man’s hanging and the story would make an interesting paragraph for the book he is writing on the tribes of the Niger.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare.. The play begins with the appearance of three witches and moves to a military camp where King Duncan hears that two of his generals, Macbeth and Banquo have vanquished two invading armies. When both men were returning from his battles, they meet the witches in a moor. The witches tell Macbeth he will be made King of Scotland, and that Banquo, although will not be king, will beget a line of kings. Both generals regard the prophecies with skepticism, and it is not after Macbeth is appointed thane that they remember the prophecies. Macbeth tells his wife about the prophecy, and since she has no loyalty to the king, plots to kill him to get his husband the throne. However, she manages to convince him, and both plot the king’s death. Macbeth manages to kill King Duncan and gain the throne while Duncan’s sons flee fearful of having the same destiny as their father. Nevertheless, despite having seized the throne, Macbeth tries to kill his friend Banquo, and his son, fearful of the prophecy that said Banquo’s line would inherit the throne. He fails to do so and goes to visit the witches in a cavern, where they show him visions of his future, and to be aware of Macduff, an Noble who opposed him when he got the throne. After knowing that, Macbeth assaults Macduff’s castle and kills his family. When Macduff received the news, he vows revenge and joins the army of Malcolm, a son of the deceased king. Many nobles, who want to get rid of Macbeth supported the invasion, as his behavior was erratic and tyrannical. Even her wife, Lady Macbeth, regrets her behavior and kills herself, unable to cope with the guilt. Eventually, Macduff’s forces come to fight against Macbeth’s and defeat him, killing him, and declaring Malcolm, the rightful heir to the throne, King.
We consider that to a thorough analysis it was important to show a summary of the plots of both works, as to be able to contrast them clearly. Up next, we shall compare the following items: Hero’s power; corruption’s power, and women’s power.
Hero’s Power. Okonkwo has struggled to be where he is now. There is no way to deny that. He has risen from the shame his father left, and triumph out of sheer will. He did not despair and kept on going. Despite the hard things life threw at him, he succeeded, and all those failures and victories forged him into a man that despised weakness. This led him to perceive weakness in every person, from his son to his wives, turning him into a bitter man. When he finally sees something that can become as strong as he is, he is forced to kill him, an act that almost drives him mad.
The same goes to Macbeth. He is a general, a well-seasoned man who has fought many enemies and won. That is why it strikes us so hard that he decides to go against his judgement and betray his king. However, Macbeth’s power is a power that has no further sight. He considers that the only way to perpetuate his reign is by violence. That is why his dead comes as no surprise.
Here the comparison can be made in how both men acquired power. Their power comes from strength, but not from wisdom. In Okonkwo’s case, his beliefs manipulated him into believe that his ways were the only possible while Hamlet’s ambition blinded him and brought him death.
Corruption’s Power. One of the main theme in both works is ambition, In Macbeth, we can see how a righteous man, who is a courageous general faithful to his king, kills him to fulfill a prophecy and to become king himself. After seizing power, Macbeth finds it corrupting and enticing. He descends into madness and paranoia and intended to destroy Banquo, as a way to avoid his lineage of getting the power the prophecy had granted him. In Macbeth, power is attained through violence. If we look closely, the three witches resemble the Graies, the three sisters from Greek mythology that share one eye and one tooth. In mythology, they appear to show the hero the right path in his quests, as the three witches did in Macbeth. In the same way, we can see how power attained through violence does not last long.
Okonkwo’s path is similar to Macbeth’s. The man is obsessed with being different from his father and does the impossible to distance from him, being a successful and honorable man. Both success and riches are critical to Okonkwo as they distance them to the image he had of his father, a man burdened with debts who died in poverty. However, his ambition has also corrupted him, as in his quest to do what he perceived as “good”. For instance, killing Ikemefuna, was done to please the elders of his clan, although his direct involvement brought him disgrace. The fears within him had corrupted him. He might be a strong man, but his strength have detached him from reality, turning all people against him.
As we can see, both men are strong, but it is in his strength where their weakness lies, as they do not realize that strength without wisdom is vain and futile. They fail to see that it is their ambition, and eagerness to overachieve, what will eventually lead to their deaths.
Women’s Power. In Macbeth, we cannot help but think that women are the sources of violence in the play. For instance, without the intrusion of the witches, Macbeth would have lived a happy life as a thane, without the ambition of being a king. The witches’ prophecy encouraged the man’s behavior and turned him into the power-crazed tyrant he turned into. Also, the figure of Lady Macbeth, the brains behind the plot, plays a powerful role in the play. Lady Macbeth shows an ambition parallel to his husband’s and uses him as a mean to achieve her will. However, despite Lady Macbeth is as ambitious and cruel as Macbeth, she never gets his hands dirty, using his husband to all the dirty work. The play can strike us as misogynistic, and that might be the truth, as show women as despicable individuals capable of any treachery.
All Things Fall Apart shows two different views on women. The first one refers to women as highly regarded individuals of the Igbo society, Priestesses, and educators were female. In the same way, when Okonkwo accidentally kills Ogbuefi Ezedu’s son, he committed a sin against the earth goddess and was punished. That means that to the Igbo, women were an important part of the tribal life. However, the other side shows us different things. When his second wife did not prepare his meal, Okonkwo beat her and punished her severely, and when she questioned her manhood, he beats her again.
Here we found differences, instead of similarities. Macbeth features strong leading female roles while All Things Fall Apart depict women in a secondary role. What we can say for sure is that despite the differences, both works depict women in a fair light, according the costumes of their time.
In conclusion, we can say that although both texts come from different periods, address to one of the key subjects that move humanity, ambition. Both texts show that ambition can be healthy if it is taken into account and used as fuel to improve one’s life. However, when it is unbridled and left to its own devices, it can destroy a man’s life. Both Macbeth and Okonkwo show that when someone pursues a desire, there is no way to stop it. However, it also shows that all the tragedies that come with that pursue, are nobody’s fault but theirs.