Comparison Between Michael Henchard and Okonkwo
This will be a direct comparison between the two leading characters in
the books 'Things Fall Apart', written by Chinua Achebe and 'The Major
of Casterbridge', written by Thomas Hardy. I will compare and contrast
both the differences and similarities in the personalities of the
Nineteenth Century major and the more contemporary trial leader.
Okonkwo is more contemporary because the book is set in a very
traditional African village, and has basic, moral issues associated
At the beginning of Chapter Five in 'The Major of Casterbridge' we
meet a man of distinct wealth and power, shown through the highly
prestigious title that he has earned. It is of course Michael
Henchard, newly elected Major of the corn-merchant town, Casterbridge.
He is at the height of his success through his profiting business, and
has earned the respect of fellow colleges through his perseverance of
Okonkwo, a tribal elder, also earned his respect through his own
successes. From the very first page we hear about his youthful triumph
in the wrestling ring by, 'throwing Amalinze the Cat.' 'His fame
rested on solid personal achievements,' and from that moment on he
built up his possessions and power through the Obi that he owned. The
Obi, in war and in farming was among the trappings of success.
In both books we also learn about the men's shaded history, especially
the events of Michael Henchard. From one profound mistake would base
the beginning of his oath, an oath that would drive him to success.
After more than just one dose of rum in his fermity, Henchard stood up
before a crowded tent and proceeded to sell his wife. Only on the
final bid of five Guineas, did the transaction conclude and his wife
and newly born child disappear to a new life.
His oath was made in some hope of repenting his terrible actions, and
so before the altar, in God's ver home, did Henchard swear never to
touch another drop of alcohol for as many years as he had been alive.
His idle and improvident father, Unoka, heavily influences Okonkwo's
history. 'Unoka was, of course, a debtor,' and throughout his manhood
had made no attempt to make a name foe himself or even provide the
basic food and money (cowries) that his family needed to survive. He
owed many men money, promising it was only a temporary solution and
that he would soon pay them back. Unoka knew this was not true, he had
no intention of paying off his debts and so just lived off other men's
In turn it was left to Okonkwo, who became the leading man in the
family, to graft hard and scrape together enough cowries to feed both
himself and his mother. He started this process by collective farming
yams, where by borrowing yam seeds from another farmer and planting
them. In return a fixed...