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English & Literary Studies

The Use Of Proverbs In The Novels Of Three Writers Chinua Achebe, Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo And Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie




This work studied the use of proverbs in the novels of three writers Chinua Achebe, Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It examines their similarities, and differences in their use of proverbs and how the new writer Chimamanda Adichie imitate the older ones. This work, depicts how proverbs enrich African Literature and its importance in speech. The work is divided into five chapters. Chapter one introduces proverbs and its importance in speech. Chapter two dwells on what other writers have written about proverbs. Chapter three is on the use of proverbs in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. The work revealed that Achebe made use of Proverbs in almost every paragraph of the pages of his work. Chapter four is on the use of proverbs in Akachi Adimora’s The Last of the Strong Ones, and Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, and the analysis of their proverbs. Chapter Five which is the last chapter, is the summary. It is the comparative analysis of the three African writers work on proverbs.                                                                               



Background To The Study

This chapter dwells on the importance of proverbs to the users and the different definitions of proverbs by different scholars.

Proverb is a very important speech art in Africa especially in the Igbo society. In Igbo society, proverb is so highly regarded that it can hardly be avoided in a speech, especially speeches that are made by elders. It is seen and considered to be a means through which wisdom is expressed. In Igbo land, words are not considered rich when they are not dully laced with proverbs.

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Most writers of African Literature find it impossible to avoid the use of proverbs in their various works because to them, proverb is the easiest way to drive points home as well as make the speech sound interesting and by this attract the attention of the readers. Proverbs make the meaning in an expression clearer and also more understandable as they address the immediate situation. Most of the writers make use of proverbs in their works to show native intelligence and competence. Any work rendered in African traditional setting that is not garnished and embellished with proverbs is not regarded highly because proverbs contain societal values, experience, norms, ideas, and resources which are used to explore things since it is said that without society, there is no language and without language there is no proverb.

Writers like Chinua Achebe and Akachi Adimora, have been identified as significant writers of the African novel because of their use of proverbs in their works. Even Chimamanda Adichie and other new writers have followed this step so as to make their works attractive to their leaders.


This study attempts to evaluate the use of proverbs by three remarkable African writers Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Adichie and Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo and in their books selected for the project. Essentially, the research hopes to make a value statement on their efforts even as it exposes the invaluable use of proverbs in African novels. Research will also assess the influence of gender on the use of proverbs.


The objective of this research is to compare a male African writer and two female contemporary writers to know how they used proverbs in their work to achieve their different purposes. The research is to also explore why modern female writers do not make much use of proverbs and also how some of the new writers imitate the old writers in their works as in the use of proverbs in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart Akachi Adimora’s Last of The Strong Ones and Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus.

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The importance of this research is to examine how a male Chinua Achebe and two female writers Akachi Adimora and Chimamanda Adichie have used proverbs to achieve their different aims. This research work will provide reasons that show the inevitability of the use of proverbs even by modern writers in their works. It will provide a seminal study of proverbs in the works of female writers.


The theoretical framework of this work is the formalistic and sociological approaches, since sociological theories are statements of how and why particular facts about the social world are related. Proverbs started same time with language. Where there is no society, there is no language and without language, there is no proverb. Proverb is part of oral tradition; therefore, African society is one that is rooted in orature before written form of literature became poplar. Orature is handed down from one generation to the other through the forefathers.

Although there are many forms of oral literature or orature   in African culture such as myth, legends and  folktales; proverb is the most cherished because of the wisdom and truth contained in it. Africans especially the Igbo society, so much value proverbs that they can not communicate fluently without proverbs because they garnish their expressions through proverbs in order to bring out the culture value, wisdom, moral, norm, and experiences of their societies.

Igbo society can not do without proverbs and being that every one of their      activities are traditional, there is no possibility of making a speech in any Igbo gathering without using proverbs. For instance, in traditional marriages, New Yam Festival, Breaking of kola nut, rituals etc., proverbs are used to address people on these occasions. The blessing of kola nut in Igbo land without proverbs is not valued. Proverbs must be said. Without  proverb,  It is regarded as if the prayer has not reached the ancestors. The Ozo chieftaincy and title taking ceremonies are also oral performances that involve the use of proverbs especially during the making of incantations.

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Proverbs could be viewed from the formalist approach. This is because according to Jasper Onuekwusi in proverbs, language is exploited artistically. This expresses the point that the users of proverbs use it to bring out the beauty of expressions. These users know how to, and when to use and applyproverbs. They can improvise on it and also manipulate it since they have the idea, the knowledge and experience of what their culture is all about. They beautify their speech or work to show their level of mastery of proverbs just as Chinua Achebe did in his African novels.


This work, is aimed to assess the relevance of proverbs in selected novels. It will consider texts from the library to draw ideas from which will be dually interpreted. However, discussions and supports by critics on related issues will be used.


This research work will be limited as a result of insufficient source of materials. The materials needed are not all available even when I have a little money to buy them.

The limitations by financial challenge as well as time factor hinders an elaborate investigation and will cause delay in the research. The researcher hopes to make sure that the aim is achieved despite the problems faced.

Pages:  50

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF        

Chapters: 1-5                                 

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.

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