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BENGUET STATE UNIVERSITY

LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET

COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS

BETWEEN A POEM AND A NOVEL

(SECOND COMING AND THINGS FALL APART)

SUBMITTED TO DR.CYNTHIA LUBITON

IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE STUDY


OF LITERARY GENRES (ESL 310)

BY

MAUREEN T. STA. ANA

(Ph.D. Language- English Language II)


INTRODUCTION

The poem SECOND COMING was written by William Butler Yeast and the novel

THINGS FALL APART was written by CHINUA ACHEBE. W.B. Yeats

William Butler Yeats was born on June 13, 1865, in Dublin, Ireland. He was the

oldest of four children of John Butler Yeats, a portrait artist. His father added to William's

formal schooling with lessons at home that gave him an enduring taste for the classics.

John Yeats had a forceful personality. His personal philosophy was a blend of

aestheticism (a belief that art and beauty are important for everything) and atheism (a

belief that there is no God). William felt its influence much later as it showed up in his

interest in magic and the occult (supernatural) sciences and in his highly original

system of aesthetics (beauty). In 1887 he became a literary correspondent for two

American newspapers. Among his acquaintances at this time were his father's artist and

writer friends, including William Morris (1834–1896), George Bernard Shaw (1856–

1950), and Oscar Wilde (1856–1900).

William Butler Yeats wrote “The Second Coming” in 1919, soon after the end

of World War I, known at the time as “The Great War” because it was the biggest war

yet fought and “The War to End All Wars” because it was so horrific that its participants

dearly hoped it would be the last war.

It was also not long since the Easter Rising in Ireland, a rebellion that was

brutally suppressed that was the topic of Yeats’ earlier poem "Easter 1916," and

the Russian Revolution of 1917, which overthrew the long rule of the czars and was

accompanied by its full share of lingering chaos.

It’s no wonder the poet’s words convey his sense that the world he knew was

coming to an end.

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“The Second Coming,”, refers to the Christian prophecy in the Bible’s Book of

Revelation that Jesus will return to reign over Earth in the end times.

On the other hand, Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930, Chinua Achebe

made a splash with the publication of his first novel, Things Fall Apart, in 1958.

Renowned as one of the seminal works of African literature, it has since sold more than

20 million copies and been translated into more than 50 languages. Achebe followed

with novels such as No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964) and Anthills of the

Savannah (1987), and served as a faculty member at renowned universities in the U.S.

and Nigeria. He died on March 21, 2013, at age 82, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Chinua Achebe, the author of Things Fall Apart, was born on November 16,1930.

He was the fifth child of Isaiah Okafor, an Evangelical Christian churchman, and Janet

Iloegbunam Achebe. At 14 he was selected to attend a government College in

Umuahia, the greatest preparatory school in West Africa. At the age of eighteen he was

accepted into the University of Ibaban to study medicine, and later on, switched to study

English Literature . This is when he dropped his English name, Albert, in preference to

his Igbo name, Chinualumogu—which means, “My spirit come fight for me."

Part of what motivated Achebe to write Things Fall Apart was the desire to

capture the voice of indigenous African identity. Achebe was fascinated with living in

Lagos, an area in which he was able to see the collision between old and new notions

of African identity. At the same time, Achebe recognized that the post- colonial

condition of Africa demanded the emergence of new voice. The traditional voice in

African literature was driven by European visions of what Africa was. The "African

savage" and the notion that Africans were "uncivilized" in village life were aspects of

what drove Achebe to configure something new. The construction of a village identity in

Africa which repudiates European construction of African identity is something that

lingers in Achebe's mind as he takes in Lagos as well as the new condition of freedom

that was a part of modern Africa. These become the motivating forces behind why

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Achebe sought to write Things Fall Apart. Achebe understood that there needed to be a

more indigenous voice to African literature. He recognized that the way in which Africa

was depicted through the eyes of a European had to be countered with an alternate

vision of reality: "Africa up as a foil to Europe, as a place of negations at once remote

and vaguely familiar, in comparison with which Europe's own state of spiritual grace will

be manifest." For Achebe, the need to depict a condition of being that was more

"complex" and intricate helped to motivate his writing of Things Fall Apart.

It is with this in mind that Achebe conceives of the novel. To avert the European

construction of Africa as a realm of "negation" becomes one of the major factors in the

novel's conception. Things Fall Apart is where Achebe combines the traditional aspects

of African identity into a setting in which the new is constructed. The result is that a

narrative emerges that is reflective of the indigenous African experience. The desire to

establish this is a motivating factor in Achebe's writing of Things Fall Apart.

COMPARISON OF SECOND COMING AND THINGS FALL APART

Chinua Achebe based his novel, "Things Fall Apart," on the poem by William

Butler Yeats called "The Second Coming." These two pieces of literature have many

similarities despite being two completely different pieces of literature. It is clearly shown

that both authors wanted to illustrate great change between an old era to a new era with

the changes taking place.. Achebe begins his book with an excerpt to the beginning of

the poem "Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer.

Things fall apart the centre cannot hold Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world" (Yeats,

lines 1-4).Although Achebe begins with this excerpt, the phrase "things fall apart the

centre cannot hold" (Achebe, 3) is in direct correlation to Yeat's poem of drastic change.

Achebe describes the situation of the Igbo culture through these lines of the poem in

which Yeats describes his own condition of the world. In the quote "things fall apart", it

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is referenced by Achebe to foreshadow events that are to occur in the novel in which

leads the protagonist Okonkwo to his greatest downfall as well as his death.

Additionally, he hints at the chaos that arises when a system collapses to the new

changes that take place upon the Igbo culture. In Mbanta and Umuofia children played

an even larger role as they were the future and centre therefore, as "things fell apart",

"the centre cannot hold" together. The clans depended on the sons to continue their

ways as they grew older and stronger. Once the younger people began to convert, it

paved the way for others to join and for the church to get stronger."The falcon cannot

hear the falconer" (Yeats, line 2). The quote represents the growing gap between the

young generation and the old, traditional generations. Achebe incorporates a similar

interpretation of the quote as he describes the situation of the younger members of

Mbanta village.

Also coinciding idea in both pieces is the sacrifice of something to avoid changes

that come along. Okonkwo ends his life as a last resort . In doing this he feels that he

saves his honor and heritage . He also kills himself to dodge the pain and suffering that

Christianity brought to his culture . “The Second Coming” warns us of an apocolypse .

The apocolypse is the end of civilization in our world . What makes the poem so

synonymous to the book is that in either case it is not possible to stop the changes from

happening. .

Another coinciding idea in these two literary pieces is the loss of control of a

higher power over a lower power . In Things Fall Apart Okonkwo tries to teach Nwoye

the old ways of their people . He also tries to make his son unlike Okonkwo’s father .

Nwoye wanted to be his own man . He didn’t want to have to live up to the expectations

of his father , Okonkwo . Nwoye takes on the ways of Christianity in hope of a better life

. Okonkwo feels dishonored by Nwoye’s turn towards Christianity. Okonkwo now looks

his son as he did his father . Nwoye’s move to Christianity shows the loss of Okonkwo’s

power over his life . In The Second Coming the loss of control is symbolized by the line

“the falcon does not hear the falconer ” . Where the falcon is the symbol of the lesser

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power and the falconer the symbol of the higher power . The line says that after time

passes and changes take place powers change . The last reflective idea between the

poem and the book is the respect towards a superior force . The superior force is not

always an object that one can feel or hold in his or her hand but it could be as simple as

an idea. The superior force in The Second Coming was not the apocolypse but it was

time. Time cannot be paused or turned back so whatever is done may never be

changed . Time does not allow the world to prepare for The Second Coming, So all

hope is lost . The Superior force in Things Fall Apart is the spread of Christianity .

Christianity creates Chaos in Umuofia . It makes all the people that were loyal to their

ancestors forget about where they were from . The culture of the people in Umuofia was

slowly put to extinction by the spread of Christianity.

In both pieces, something is sacrificed to avoid the changes that come along.

Okonkwo ends his life as a last resort to save his honor and heritage and to avoid the

pain and suffering Christianity brought to his culture. The second coming warns of an

apocalypse, the end of civilization in our world. In both cases it is not possible to stop

these changes from happening. Lastly Also, The superior force in The Second Coming

was not the apocalypse but it was time. Time cannot be paused or turned back so

whatever is done may never be changed. Time does not allow the world to prepare for

The Second Coming, So all hope is lost. The Superior force in Things Fall Apart is the

spread of Christianity. Christianity creates Chaos in Umuofia. It makes all the people

that were loyal to their ancestors forget about where they were from. The culture of the

people in Umuofia was slowly put to extinction by the spread of Christianity. Our world

changes from day to day . Everything we do now reflects on how the future will be . If

there is one concept one learns from comparing these two fine literary works . It is to not

dwell on mistakes in the past but to make them up by doing well in the future . Chinua

Achebe and William Butler Yeats make this idea understandable to us by using it in their

works of art. Okonkwo new the end of his culture was coming so he tries to do whatever

he can to stop it . After years of hopelessness he finally sees a way out through death .

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In “The Second Coming” there is no way to stop the apocalypse from happening . So

the world becomes helpless and falls victim. The stories that both the book and the

poem told were of life’s end .

But although the concept of conflict in the novel and the poem is similar, there is

one big difference between the two writings. In Yeats’ poem, those who are not

Christians are considered the evil of the world, or the rough beast the slouches towards

Bethlehem to be born. This could be infer because Bethlehem is a holy place where

Jesus was born, and the poem describes the beast as a figure threatening the holy

place. Contrasting to the poem, the novel depicts Christian missionaries as the

antagonists who ruin innocent native people in Africa. In other words, forceful

missionaries are the rough beast who threatened the innocent village in Nigeria. That is

why, their theme could be the same but if we will analyse who the antagonists were

treated in both the literary pieces, there lies the big difference.