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The Evil Forest in Things Fall Apart

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  • 0:02 Basic on the Evil Forest
  • 0:36 The Evil Forest as a Place
  • 2:10 The Evil Forest as a Symbol
  • 3:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

'Things Fall Apart' contains many examples of symbolic and descriptive language. One example is the the Evil Forest. In this lesson, we will take a look at the Evil Forest and what it symbolizes in the story.

Basic on the Evil Forest

In the story Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the Evil Forest is mentioned 22 times. Sometimes the Evil Forest is mentioned as a specific place, and other times it is mentioned as a type of spiritual village leader. In both references, the Evil Forest is full of mystery and darkness. We can examine the Evil Forest as a place and as the name of a religious elder. By doing this, we can gain a deeper understanding of how the Evil Forest represents fear, evil, and death.

The Evil Forest as a Place

The first time Evil Forest is mentioned in Things Fall Apart is when Okonkwo is remembering his father's death. Since his father died from swelling of the limbs, it was forbidden to bury him in the earth so he was dragged to the Evil Forest to rot. As Okonkwo is remembering his father, he also remembers a story about a man who was led to the Evil Forest because he was dying. The dying man found a way back to the village because he did not want to die in the forest. The people forced him back to the forest and tied him to a tree. This first example paints the Evil Forest as a place that is closely involved in the cultural norms of Igbo culture. Later in Chapter 17, this idea is restated when the Evil Forest is described as, 'An evil forest was where the clan buried all those who died of the really evil diseases, like leprosy and smallpox.'

When the missionaries come to convert the villagers, we see the Evil Forest again. The missionaries want a piece of land to build on. We learn that they did not really want them near the clan, and so they made them that offer which nobody in his right senses would accept. The leaders offered the Evil Forest to the missionaries. Uchendu says 'Let us give them a real battlefield in which to show their victory.' Both of these comments reveal that the Evil Forest is a place of mysterious evilness. The fact that the elders want the missionaries to build on the Evil Forest reveals their negative feelings towards the missionaries as well as the worrisome nature of the Evil Forest.

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