Leading By Example Or Wealth Essay

1014 words - 5 pages

Thousands rush daily to view the Mona Lisa by Leonardo di Vinci and pass judgments on the painting. To a child the painting is simply the picture of a woman who is not smiling, but to most art critiques; it is one of the greatest portraits of all time. Viewers are able to form their own opinions resulting in motley of perspectives on a single item. Chinua Achebe’s tragic novel, Things Fall Apart, has a hero who, through the perspective of various critiques, can be interpreted as both a positive and negative leader through his morals and wealth. When the power struggle begins in the novel, a Marxist view of the events shows the reasons why the protagonist is in power and how he loses that power. Through the emotions of the protagonist, a psychoanalyst sees his motivation and the psychological effects power has on his behavior. Viewing the protagonist’s leadership through various techniques creates a dual perspective of leadership and how not all leaders are necessarily good leaders.
On initial glance, a Marxist critique approves of Okonkwo’s power because of his wealth but changes vantage points as the protagonist gradually loses his power. Achebe’s tragic hero, Okonkwo, is initially seen as a result of his Ibo culture raised in the belief that through displays of wealth and grandeur “he would return with a flourish” and gain power (171). On page 32 of Joseph Badaraco’s article , “Question of Character”¸ he claims Okonkwo’s beliefs and ethics were “shaped by the traditions and practices of his people” which causes him to have narrow views. The environment the protagonist is raised in shapes his leadership qualities which help his ability to lead the Ibo people successfully based upon their morals. Okonkwo’s wealth and power “rested on solid personal achievements” rather than earthly possessions making him a viable leader in the Umuofian society in a similar manner (7). The people of Umuofia live in a society which values “what he (Okonkwo) has done and who he is” rather than money which shifts the power from the wealthy to those who deserve power (Badaraco 37). Although Okonkwo uses his achievements to gain his leadership role, he uses both his skill and wealth to maintain that power upholding the Marxist view of the bourgeoisie controlling society. However, Okonkwo’s firm grasp on power quickly fades when he “lost the chance to lead his warlike clan” after inadvertently killing a clansman (171). Although Okonkwo believes he can reclaim his status with hard work, eventually, he “becomes a leader without followers” alienating himself further from others (Badaraco 32). Once Okonkwo experiences his downfall, he is unable to reclaim his leadership role because he does not possess the main necessity to lead, which is money. As a result of Okonkwo’s untimely financial demise, he loses his title of a successful leader because of his loss of economic status and despite his original acts of bravery and valor.
Although to a Marxist critic,...

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