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In Things Fall Apart, the character of Okonkwo is one who looks down on weakness, feels strength is a quality all must possess, and lives to instill fear in those around him as an attempt to prove his power over all. Driven by his father's weakness, Okonkwo feels as though he must prove to be a man seen as powerful and one to fear. Hiding his own fears, Okonkwo is regarded as powerful. Okonkwo, driven by the tribe's raising up of power, proves to those around him that he is not his father and becomes to be known as the greatest warrior who has ever lived.
This being said, one could place him into a few different levels of Dante's Hell.
First, Okonkwo could be placed into Dante's Second Level of Hell. Okonkwo had three wives by the end of his life. The second level of hell is one of lust. Given the numerous wives, one could justify that Okonkwo was lustful
Second, Okonkwo could be placed into the fifth level of Dante's Hell. The fifth level contains those who are wrathful and gloomy. Okonkwo is wrathful given his desire to be nothing like his father. The gloom exists because of the reminder of who his father was.
Lastly, Okonkwo could be placed into the Seventh Level of Hell. Based upon the fact that Okonkwo was wrathful, his character went far beyond this. He was actually violent as well. The Seventh Level of Hell was a place for violence. Okonkwo was a violent man. Based upon the fear he instilled in those around him, including his family, Okonkwo was a violent man.
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Dante's Inferno otherwise known as the "The Divine Comedy" is made up of three parts, representing the three journeys that Dante made as a guide to Virgil in his quest to find God. These parts are: Inferno, or “Hell”; Purgatorio, or “Purgatory”; and Paradiso, or “Paradise.” (see: eNotes)
The first part has nine circles, the second part purgatorio has seven terraces, and the third part paradiso has nine spheres. The seventh circle of the first part contains three rings which Okonkwo had clearly fulfilled in the tragedy written Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.
•Part One: Hell
•Level Seven: Violent
•1st Ring: Murderers, robbers, and plunderers; 2nd Ring: Suicides and those harmful to the world; 3rd Ring: Those harmful against God, nature, and art, as well as usurers. Okonkwo had unwittingly through pride, and arrogance fulfilled the three rings in the seventh level of the first part. Firstly he had killed Ikemefuna, who although it had been the will of the gods that he should die ought not to have died by the hands of Okonkwo since the boy called him father. Tradition considered his act as murder, and thus an act against the gods. Consider his act of also killing the white man, which was also murder. By tradition, no killing is justified in Igbo land, axcept if done in war; even killing in self defence leads to exile. He had thus fulfilled the requirement of the 1st ring of being a murderer. Secondly, he killed himself, another classical fulfillment of the 2nd ring. and Lastly, his involvement in the two prior actions were seen as acts against the gods and nature, and thus were seen as "alu" (abomination) against the land and the gods. Clearly Okonkwo falls within the first part of Dante's Inferno having fulfilled all the characteristics of the three rings of the seventh level in the first part, Hell or inferno.
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