Role of Female Characters in “Things Fall Apart”
Critically evaluate the role of female characters in “Things Fall Apart”.
Discuss the role of women in “Things Fall Apart” from feminist point of view.
Women is a name of respect, love and romanticism nowadays but not from the creation women are considered as part of superior human society. There are still some societies and cultures, which treat women as slaves, especially in African societies. Chinua Achebe experienced life of Ibo society and he was conscious about Ibo culture, therefore, he had portrayed it carefully in his novel “Things Fall Apart”. Today, women has right to vote and choose the future of their country but, in several societies, before many years ago, women were treated as slaves. Nigerian society also shares the same kind of culture, a little different but closely related to same facts. The society, presented in the novel is male dominant society, in which chief goddess is female god. No matter, how good a woman is, in the Ibo society but she is always treated with harsh attitude by every man. Although, so called respect is given to females yet it is not sufficient for those deserving women. Nigerian society was as crueler to women as it was good to a respectable man. It was in their culture or they just consider women as their toy to play with but it is crystal clear that they deprive women from their rightful shares.
The society may have too much goodness in it but there was no justice for women in that society. Even, for husbands, beating was a part of their routine life. Chinua Achebe is a person, who just not tells us a folk tale but reality of life. In fact, it is not wrong to say that he paints the harsh reality of Ibo society, which was not cruel to enemies but also to their women. A lot of example can be found in the novel. First of all their marriage customs are enough to deprive a female from his right. A women has no right to choose her husband. Although, a female has chosen Okonkwo, by leaving her first husband but if Okonkwo was not in ultimate power, she would be punished for that act. Imagine, if Okonkwo was poor like his father, could he be able to accept that woman as his wife. Of course not. Her first husband would kill him for the reason that she left him. Thus, coming towards the main topic that women have no right to choose their life partner. They were haggled and then marriage was contracted with the person who has wealth. Meaning thereby, as much superior a person is, as beautiful wife he can afford. Some of the characters, justify that the system of bargaining is not right for women such as Obeirika, who was against the haggling of women. He was of the view that women are not goats or cows, who are treated in these manners.
Some of the main incidents, which are worthwhile to mention about the role of females are that Okonkwo, in peace, weeks beats his second wife just because of a minor mistake. Although, he was forbidden to do that in those days but he, at once, ignored it and took action against his wife. Two events are mentioned in the novel, which shows the cruel attitude of men against women in the novel. Many other incidents support my point of view that the women were not treated well in that society. It was the society, who gives punishment to the wife if husband has done something wrong. In another event, Okonkwo in a meeting when finds a person, whom he did not like, says him that this meeting is for men. The word men here tells us the superiority of a man over women and in hidden meaning gives us hint, women is a symbol of weakness. Moreover, the example of Ezinma is in front of us. She was the lovely daughter of Okonkwo but he sometimes wonder that why she is not a boy. He wishes her to be a boy instead of a girl. These incidents shows attitude of males against women and symbolizes women as weak humans.
Apart from the harsh attitude towards women, Chinua Achebe, after the exile of Okonkwo, unhide a stunning role of women in Ibo culture. After exile, Okonkwo find refuge in his mother’s house. On one hand they ignore women in any important matter but on the other hand they worship it in form of goddess. If a person becomes severe, he finds peace in his mother’s home. If he is depressed, he is consoled by his daughter and if he wants something, he worships a female goddess. A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet but when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland.
In view of the above discussion, the role of women is a picture of weakness in Ibo society. In many incidents, women are painstaking humans. I will not say that they were treated as animals but the attitude of men, towards them, was not decent. In the whole novel, there is no event, whereby we can say that women are not inferior to men. Superiority is for men and women are inferior in every sense. Their purpose in life was to make meals, born children and nourish babies. They were not inclined to do any other thing, stopping them from becoming superior. However, a man has both joy and sorrow in his life and when the bad times come, his “mother” is always there to comfort him. Thus comes the saying “Mother is Supreme.”