Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Significant Allusions

Literary Allusions: Achebe was influenced by well-known European texts—and critical of them, too. In Things Fall Apart, Achebe often uses allusions to European literature alongside Igbo proverbs.

  • The title and the epigraph are both taken from the poem “The Second Coming” by W. B. Yeats. The last phrase of the novel’s epigraph, “loosed upon the world,” is repeated in the story. When Ekwefi follows the priestess who carries her daughter through the night, she describes “those evil essences loosed upon the world” by the medicine and witchcraft practiced by the villagers. A variation of this phrase occurs when Okonkwo is exiled from Umuofia. Obierika reflects on the banishment, believing that if Okonkwo didn’t leave, the wrath of the earth goddess would be “loosed on all the land.”
  • The narrator describes Okonkwo’s life as dominated by fear of failure and weakness. The narrator goes on to describe this fear as deeper than his fear of nature, despite seeing nature as “malevolent, red in tooth and claw.” This phrase originates from Canto LVI of Lord Tennyson’s

(The entire section is 369 words.)