A Character in a Story
A character in a story can be seen in a different light depending on the portrayal by the author. The author could portray characters a sympathetic or unsympathetic. Shakespeare and Chinua Achebe are two authors who created characters who are to be sympathized with and those that were not worthy of sympathy [Unclear what you are saying]. In Shakespeare’s play king Lear, Lear is considered a sympathetic character. Edmond on the other hand is not. Shakespeare is able to show these characters as sympathetic or villains through actions of the characters. In Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe he depicts sympathetic characters or unsympathetic through the use of narration. Okonkwo is considered a sympathetic character while his father, Unoka was not.
In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Lear is meant to be sympathetic to the audience. Shakespeare shows this through actions of the character and their [“Their” is plural so it is not the right word to go with “character”.] reaction to others actions. In the first act we see the king get mistreated by his two oldest daughters Goneril and Regan. The oldest daughter is angered by the king’s lack of respect of her. Lear argues that he does not net [?] to as he is King. The two argue with the king deciding to leave her for his other daughter. He goes to Regan his other daughter who also turns him away. The actions of his daughters lead to the audience sympathizing with Lear. The two daughters are mistreating the man who is both their king and father. In the period in which this play took place the children were to always obey their parents.
Another time Shakespeare showed King Lear as a sympathetic character is during the fifth act when he is imprisoned along with Cordelia. Here he realizes who was at fault for the destruction of his kingdom. He admits he was at fault, he points out his flaws and how he was blinded by the praise of his two daughters and asks for forgiveness from Cordelia. The audience is expected to feel sympathy for Lear, because he realizes he is flawed and because of that he loses everything including his daughter Cordelia. Edmund is written to be hated by the audience. Edmund acts in an underhanded manner doing things for his own personal interest as shown through his actions of betrayal and deceit throughout the play. He portrays himself as a stand-up member of society who accepts his role as a bastard son. In reality he secretly wishes to have power and higher status in society. During the first act he tricks both his brother and father.
He claims his brother Edgar is plotting against his father which is a lie. It is at this moment where Edmund is shown to be unworthy of sympathy from the audience. He lied to both his brother and father in order to get the two to fight. With the brother out of the way he would gain his land and title. Edmund is a true villain who was willing to trick and break apart his own family for power. In the third act Edmund is asked by his father to help him hid so he may help the king. Later in the act he ends up betraying his father and revealing his location to the duke of Cornwall. Towards the end of the play Edmund is asked to marry by both Goneril and Regan. As an aside the audience learns that he does not care who he marries because all he wants is power.
In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is a sympathetic character. The author shows the audience that he worth of sympathy through the use of narration. In the first chapter of the novel the narrator describes Okonkwo as a strong, respected, and hard-working man. This narration suggests that Okonkwo is regarded as someone of high importance in his village. Okonkwo takes care of a young boy who is a prisoner of the town. The first instance the audience is meant to sympathize with Okonkwo is when Ikemefuna is to be killed in the seventh chapter of the novel. He refuses to show emotion during to the fact that emotions make him weak. Despite this, he is clearly hurt by his death and with the fact that he caused the death. The next time Okonkwo experiences grief is when he accidentally killed another tribesman. Here the village council punishes Okonkwo by putting him in exile. Okonkwo lost his home, wealth and status because of an accident. This makes him into a more sympathetic character because everything he lost was something he worked hard for. These things took years of his life to get and to lose it all for a miss fire from his rifle. Okonkwo gains the sympathy from the audience once again at the end of the story. After he returns from his exile he finds his entire village has changed due to the colonization of the British.
Angered by this fact he tries to rebel against the British only to find out that the rest of the village does not want to. Realizing he no longer has a place in his home he ends committing suicide. In a sense this makes Okonkwo a tragic character due to the fact that he loses everything he held as important from his son converting to losing status in his village to no longer having a place to call home. The tragic nature of his story makes him far more sympathetic to the audience. His tragic nature makes him worthy of sympathy. One character unworthy of sympathy from Things Fall Apart is Okonkwo’s father Unoka. This shown mostly through narration and from the memories of Okonkwo. When first introduced to the character the narrator describes Unoka as lazy, poor and heavily in debt to his neighbors. It is clear to the audience that he is not meant to be liked based on the way described by the narrator. In an early part of the book we learn that Unoka does not pay back his loans. Unoka is visited by one of his friends who loaned him some seeds. The friend asks about Unoka paying him back. Unoka laughs at him having been used to not paying people back. This portrays him in a negative light. It shows how Unoka has little to no respect to the people around him. He takes everything for granted.
Unoka did not care about the consequences of his laziness. As stated by the narrator Unoka would let his family starve. Instead of taking care of his family he continued to party with his friends. When he died, he left nothing to his children and taught them very little. His actions had severe consequences for his family, and he did not care. This damaged his relationship with Okonkwo and caused shame upon his family. The fact that he was content to live in such a way makes him unworthy of sympathy. King Lear and Okonkwo are examples of sympathetic characters while Edmund and Unoka are examples of unsympathetic characters.
In Shakespeare’s King Lear he made the audience feel sympathy for the king by showing how he is mistreated by his daughters and by showing him feel remorse over his actions toward the end of the play. For Edmund he showed his cruelty and lack of loyalty to his family and to society. Chinua Achebe showed Okonkwo as a sympathetic character using narration. Showing his faith, status and loyalty to the village and sharing his feelings. The narration also shaped the view of Unoka who was revealed to be lazy and a poor father. This shows how authors can portray characters in different ways to get sympathy from the audience.