Posting Old Works – University’s Stuffs Part 9

As I’ve said in the previous post, this one is a continuation of the same class. Contemporary Literature Class. This one is my paper about Jungian approach On Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This one was for my midterm.

Jungian approach

On Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Eugenia Lupita – 11410023

In Jungian approach we know what we call the individuation. A person’s mind is made from three different elements, which is the persona, the anima or animus, and the shadow. Using this approach in analyzing literary work, usually we will find the persona in the form of the hero, the anima in the form of the heroine, and the shadow in the form of the villain. This time, I am going to try to analyze Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe using this approach. However, instead of three different characters depicting the three different elements of mind, I am going to analyze just one character. I am going to analyze Okonkwo, the main character of the novel but still with the three elements that made up human’s mind according to Jung which is the persona, the anima or animus, and the shadow.

First is the persona. Persona is a “mask” that people use to see the world. If it is a mask that people wear in the metaphysical sense, it’s very similar to actors taking on a role for a movie. In Jung’s theory, however, the “movie” is real life. In the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, we can see the main character’s persona, Okonkwo, from his decision to kill his adopted son, Ikemefuna. Even though he has been warned by Ogbuefi Ezeudu, a respected village elder, that he is not allowed to take part in Ikemefuna’s murder, he still does it.[1] It’s all because he doesn’t want to look weak in front of his fellow clansmen. He chooses a decision that will mostly be accepted by the society around him, instead of what is really in his mind. This is his persona. He is playing a movie which is his own life in which he is the actor, according to Jung.[2]

The next ones are the anima or the animus. The anima and animus are described by Jung as elements of his theory of the collective unconscious, a domain of the unconscious that transcends the personal psyche. In the unconscious of the male, this archetype finds expression as a feminine inner personality: anima; equivalently, in the unconscious of the female it is expressed as a masculine inner personality: animus. The anima (animus) can be identified as the totality of the unconscious feminine psychological qualities that a male possesses or the masculine ones possessed by the female. In this book, Okonkwo is depicted as a very masculine man, who is very strong and tough. It is very rare that he acts out his anima. However, there are times where Okonkwo sort of lets his guard down and shows his sentimental side. For example, after Ikemefuna’s death, he doesn’t eat and sleep for a couple of days. This is the part when Okonkwo’s anima is shown in the book.[3]

The third one is the shadow. Jung once wrote, “Everyone carries a shadow and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” The Shadow is the inferior being in all of us, it wants to do all those things that we do not allow ourselves to do, or that we don’t want to be. It is the Mr. Hyde in relation to Mr. Jekyll. The Shadow is not only about not doing something, but also about impulsive and ill-considered deeds.  The Shadow is all those uncivilized desires and emotions that are incompatible with the norms of society and with our ideal personality. It is all we are ashamed of, that we do not wish to be. In the story, one of Okonkwo’s shadows is his dislike for his father. It’s the source of his dislike to his son, Nwoye. Because he sees Nwoye as someone similar to his father, he dislikes Nwoye. Even though consciously he knows that Nwoye is not his father, but unconsciously he always sees his father’s character in Nwoye. This leads Okonkwo to treats Nwoye badly in order to fix his son so that Nwoye can be better than Okonkwo’s father.[4]

After analyzing the book, we can see that the approach can be used to analyze one character’s mind, just like in the psychological world. The persona doesn’t really have to be the hero, the anima as the heroine, and the shadow as the villain. People have all the three aspects in their mind. Just like Okonkwo. His fear of being seen as a weak man represents his persona. He deals with the reality by choosing the most acceptable way of living according to the society. However, sometimes in the rare moment where he is feeling sentimental, his anima shows up. Just like when Okonkwo gets depressed and cannot seem to forget about Ikemefuna’s death. He also has his shadow that takes form in his dislike for his father that grows so strong that unconsciously, he tries his hardest to make sure that he and his son, Nwoye, will never be like his father, even though it means beating his own son.


[1] Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, Pg. 39

[2] Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, Pg. 42

[3] Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, Pg. 44

[4] Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, Pg. 9


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