Female Assertion as an Antidote to Male Dominance: Mother Archetypes in Achebe’s Novels—Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, and A Man of the People
Muneeni, Jeremiah Mutuku
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There has been an intense debate with regards to Chinua Achebe’s (mis)representation of women in his creative works, especially his first four novels. Some scholars have argued that Achebe is a patriarchal writer who has relegated women to the periphery. Nevertheless, a few have read subtle nuances of gender balance in his works. This paper is a continuation of this debate. Specifically, it argues that Achebe has created Mother Archetypes in his novels and if the same is not recognized, he will continue to be demonized as a gender insensitive writer. The unit of analysis is three of the five Achebe’s novels namely: Things Fall Apart,No Longer at Ease, and A Man of the People. The paper interrogates the aforementioned novels within the framework of archetypal criticism, with the aim of unearthing and examining Mother Archetypes inherent in them. The paper identifies religion, education, and justice as the spheres of life in which Achebe has created, empowered and elevated Mother Archetypes to be at par with their male counterparts. However, owing to the breadth of the subject, the paper dwells on education. The paper concludes that creation of empowered Mother Archetypes in Achebe’s novels is a symbolic relay in which women characters hand in the symbolic empowerment baton to the next woman in the next novel until the last one where the creation of a woman major character, Beatrice, wins the race against male dominance.