The Power Of Subjugation In “Things Fall Apart” By Chinua Achebe

2160 words - 9 pages

Equally, Okonkwo in “Things Fall Apart” also utilises direct imperatives to instruct those subordinate to him. This is seen throughout the text, such as when Okonkwo orders one of his wives to ‘get me a pot’ and ‘to leave the child alone’. The language used by Okonkwo serves as a tool of subjugation, with the coarse use of direct imperatives and harsh remarks serves to overpower them to the point of them becoming his slaves.
Hugh as a societal and familial patriarch is presented in light of a failing patriarch, such as the way in which he represents a static, inward-looking, self-satisfied way of life, whose response to modern outside influences is to ignore them. For example, he is in denial about the colonisation that’s taking place, to the degree that he is refusing it is even happening. In contrast to Hugh, Prospero controls the characters in the play and remains in firm control of the island, he is a learned scholar who has powerful magical abilities and uses his knowledge to keep control of the island and is feared and revered. Okonkwo as a familial patriarch would have been seen as a successful patriarch, due to his domination of those subordinate to him, such as his wives and children, ordering his daughter to ‘sit like a woman’ and nearly killing his wife, ‘is it true that Okonkwo nearly killed you with his gun?’ Thus, his constant efforts to maintain his status also serve to reinforce his power and status.

Colonisers are considered the upmost authority and any authority below is answerable to the coloniser. Likewise, Prospero is the coloniser, serving as the main figure head, compared to Hugh and Okonkwo who as societal patriarchs, only encompass certain levels of authority. Thus, being answerable to a higher authority is a clear strain on any claimed societal power. Prospero retains societal control by physically abusing Caliban, such as
I’ll rack thee with old cramps,
Fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar
That beasts shall tremble at thy din.
In addition, he controls the island through his magic, considered by Vaughn as his ‘technology’, such as putting Miranda to sleep, ‘thou art inclined to sleep’. Hugh’s attitude towards Owen is one which is more positive and kind then that compared to Manus. Owen is considered ‘handsome’ and is always ‘dressed smartly – a city man’. ‘His manner is easy and charming: everything he does is invested with consideration and enthusiasm’. This is a sharp contrast to Manus, who is introduced as ‘pale-faced, lightly built, intense, and works as an unpaid assistant... His clothes are shabby; and when he moves we see that he is lame’. Thus, Hugh is socially prejudiced, due to social class and political opinion. Any request or interjection by Owen is seen positively by Hugh, such as when Owen asks his father if he is ‘interrupting’ and if he can ‘bring them in’, Hugh replies ‘certainly’. The change in attitude puts Hugh in a bad light, because if he wants to be a successful societal patriarch,...

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