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Analysis of ‘The Lion and the Jewel’  

Title: The Lion and the Jewel

Playwright: Wole Soyinka

Setting: Nigeria; Yoruba Village

ABOUT THE PLAY:

Oluwole Akivande Soyinka was born on the 13th of July 1934 in Abeokuta in Western Nigeria, at the time still a British colony. His father Ayo was a school supervisor and his mother Eniola a shopkeeper, both well-respected members of the local community. Although Soyinka was brought up in an Englishspeaking, Christian environment, his parents belonged to the Yoruba tribe, and the family often visited the father’s ancestral home in Ísará, a traditional Yoruban community.

SOME OF WOLE SOYINKA’S QUOTES

“Books and all forms of writing are terror to those who wish to suppress the truth”

“But the ultimate lesson is just to sit down and write. That’s all”

“The hand that dips into the bottom of the pot will eat the biggest snail”

“The writer is the visionary of his people….He anticipates, he warns”

“Only 4 sets of people can vote for the PDP: (1) those who are intellectually blind; (2) those who are blinded by ethnicity: (3) those who are blinded by corruption and therefore afraid of the unknown, should power change hands; and finally (4) those who are suffering from a combination of the above terminal sicknesses”

“Governance can did itself into a huge hole and not even know it’s in there”

“The media must be used effectively to reach the masses. You have to find a new language in which to address the people and demonstrate what is possible”

“When you are looking for corruption, you should look at the entire stratum of the society, while some forms of corruption are direct, others are indirect”

INTRODUCTION OF THE PLAY 

A Brief Synopsis and Background to ‘The Lion and the Jewel’

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The play is about a westernised school teacher who wants to marry a beautiful village girl. The school teacher is determined to get her without paying traditional bride-price, but a girl refuses to his plan and she demands that he should pay bride-price if he really wants to marry her. Because of the beauty and popularity of this girl, the school teacher realises that he is in race with other men to get her. Due to traditional bounds, school teacher’s strict westernised rules, and one old man’s treachery, the beautiful village girl falls into the arms of the old man known as Baroka. Then, the central theme of this play is the clash between two cultures or generations: Young generation and old generation. The polygamous and powerful leader of the village, Baroka (The Lion) and the young and westernized teacher, Lakunle, are battling fiercely to win the love of the beautiful village girl, Sidi (The Jewel). The play focuses on how the Lion (Baroka) hunts the Jewel (Sidi) and this idea is conveyed in the form of comedy. The play also conveys rich folk materials with the impact on modern tribal customs.

ANALYSIS OF THE FORM

The following is the analysis of the elements of the form found in the play:

  • The title. The title of the play has been used by the playwright to reflect and symbolize the contents of the play. It is symbolic in which the Lion (Baroka) fights to win the love of the Jewel (Sidi). Hence, the playwright has successfully employed the title that reflects the contents of the play. Sidi says; “I am the twinkle of a jewel. But he is the hind-squarters of a lion” (pg. 25). 
  • The setting. The play is set in the Yoruba village of Ilujinle in Nigeria. The events and actions of this setting are the reflective on various contexts which have the issues explored in the play. For example, in our societies there are contexts in which the events portrayed in this play are also relevant. 

THE PLOT

This is the arrangement or series of events in a work of art. The organization and the structure of the play deviate from usual division of plays. The usual division of plays involves acts and scenes but this play ‘The Lion and the Jewel’ has been divided into three sections. Each section has its name. These names of sections reflect and correspond with the development of the play’s plot that illustrates the events in a single day.

MORNING

Lakunle is at school when Sidi enters with a bail of water on her head. Lakunle, seeing Sidi, he stops teaching and comes out of the class to meet Sidi. He wants to help her to carry the bail of water but Sidi refuses. When Lakunle forces to help her, some water splashes over him. Sidi claims that that’s what he wants because he is obstinate. In this section, Lakunle as one who has Western education has the desire to modernise his village. He explains to Sidi that he wants to marry her without paying bride-price because the bride-price is unnecessary or old-fashioned African tradition among other things. He insists that he doesn’t want to ‘buy her like a goat’ and use her like a bought object in his house. He wants her to be free and equal to him. But Sidi refuses and insists that Lakunle should pay bride-price if he wants to marry her. He tries to kiss her but she refuses. Later, a group of villagers come and tell Sidi that the Stranger who took her photographs has come. In the group, there are drummers and dancers who have accompanied the group. They dance. This dance involves Sidi and Lakunle as well as. As the dance goes on, Baroka and his men (wrestlers) come. Baroka orders them to stop and go away.

The Stranger is the one who has exposed Sidi’s beauty by taking her photos to town and print them. These pictures have made Sidi the most popular person in the town and in the whole of Ilujinile Village. These Sidi’s elaborate photos make her popular and she tells Lakunle that he won’t marry her now because she is famous.

NOON

In the road by the market, enters Sidi holding her photos. The Stranger who took her photos has brought them and they have proved Sidi’s beauty. The Stranger does this so as to persuade Sidi to go to town to contest in beauty contest. Sidi becomes obsessed with her photos. Lakunle is following her with a bundle of firewood collected by Sidi. So, Lakunle has helped her to carry her firewood and let her carry her photos. This is normal for Lakunle because he believes in equality between men and women. As they go, Lakunle and Sidi meet Sadiku, Baroka’s head wife. Sadiku has been sent by Baroka to propose and persuade Sidi to agree to marry Baroka. 

Therefore, Sadiku tells Sidi about Baroka’s desires and need to marry her fi she agrees. Sadiku uses persuasive language and promises and other tricks to win Sidi. Sadiku lies to Sidi that Baroka has prepared a good feast at that evening and that he wishes to spend that evening with Sidi. Sadiku says Baroka has prepared a party in her honour. But Lakunle overhears their conversation and advises Sidi not to attend the party. Lakunle says Baroka is a big liar and he is just a womaniser. The true face of Baroka and his part in railway saga is told in songs as acted by the villagers. However, Sidi believes Sadiku and agrees to go and see Baroka. Baroka is the old village chief who is also interested in Sidi. He wants to marry her as well. At first, Sadiku feels that Baroka is incapable of seducing Sidi because he has become impotent.

NIGHT

When Sidi arrives at Baroka’s home, she finds out that Baroka is engaged in a wrestling competition and ignores her at first. He is surrounded by wrestlers and admiring wives who treat him like a god. Sidi seems to be obsessed with wrestling that she initially forgets her original intention, but she soon starts to talk to the old man and asking him about his wives and stories to make sure the rapport is maintained. Baroka on his side, he plans to use Sidi’s interested nature to lure her to his demands. They talk and get used to each until Sidi become unable to resist any Baroka’s approaches. 

At the market, Lakunle and Sadiku wait for Sidi’s return. Lakunle has become impatient over Sidi’s long absence. He is worried about her. He thinks that Baroka may have killed Sidi. The group of mummers arrive and Lakunle realises that Sadiku has told them about Baroka’s impotence. Suddenly Sidi arrives while crying violently. Sidi tells them that Baroka is not impotent and he just tricked her to visit him. When Lakunle asks Sidi if she’s still a virgin, Sidi answers that she is not. It is then realised that, Baroka has persuaded her to have sex with him. At first, Lakunle is disturbed; however he still offers to marry her anyway.

Although Lakunle feel pleased to marry Sidi, a fallen woman, and that he will not have to pay any brideprice, Sadiku tells him that she has gone to get prepared for a wedding. Lakunle is surprised how things are happing so fast. Suddenly, Sidi appears in full wedding dress. She looks radiant as she is always. She gives Lakunle the magazine of her pictures and tells Lakunle that she’s not marrying him, but Baroka, the still fierce Lion, who is a more fitting partner for a woman of her spirit. So, after being frustrated, Sidi decides not to marry Lakunle because in their society, when a man has a sex with a certain girl, that girl should never be touched by another man. So, she must marry the first man only. This decision discourages Lakunle. Although Lakunle tries hard to persuade Sidi, Sidi refuses. Sidi even admits that the sex with an old man like Baroka who is over sixty years, is very satisfying. Lakunle is upset, but as soon as the wedding festivities commence, he begins dancing with another woman and has soon forgotten about Sidi.

CHARACTERIZATION

Playwright has created characters that convey real social personalities, hence carrying social experiences. The play has the following characters:

  1. SIDI

BEAUTY: She is the village bale; the most beautiful girl in the village of Ilujinle.

LOVE: She loves Lakunle. They are lovers.

LOVE AFFAIR: She is also in love with Baroka.

FAME/POPULARIY: She is famous after her popularity in Lagos and in her village is spread because of her beauty.

IGNORANCE: She is fooled by Baroka and have love affair with him, the action that she regrets later.

UNEDUCATED: She is uneducated girl.

ILLITERACY: She doesn’t know how to read or write.

TRADITIONALIST: She is the strong upholder of African traditions.

  • LAKUNLE

TEACHER: He is a teacher at the village of Ilujinle.

EDUCATED: He is educated man. He has got a Western/formal education.

MODERNITY: He is a modern man.

LOVE: He is in love with Sidi. He loves her so much although she is also in love with Baroka.

OPPOSER: He is not upholder of African traditions like polygamy, bride price, and others.

CONFLICT: He quarrels with Baroka over Sidi.

HATE: He hates illiterate people like Sadiku and Baroka.

PROTEST: He protests against corrupt leaders like Baroka.

 CHAPTER ONE: THEORY OF LITERATURE

 Part One: BASIC CONCEPTS OF LITERATURE

 Part Two: DEFINITIONS OF LITERATURE

 Part Three: NATURE AND ORIGIN OF LITERATURE

 Part Four: LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE

 Part Five: FUNCTIONS OF LITERATURE

 Part Six: FICTION AND NONFICTION

 Part Seven: TYPES OF LITERATURE

 Part Eight: ELEMENTS OF LITERATURE

CHAPTER TWO: ANALYSIS OF ‘O’ LEVEL CLASS READERS

 HAWA THE BUS DRIVER

 KALULU THE HARE

CHAPTER THREE: INTERPRETING SIMPLE POEMS: FORMS

 INTRODUCTION

 Analysis of ‘WHAT A HUMAN BEING DOES’

 Analysis of ‘GOOD HERE! BAD THERE!’

 Analysis of ‘THE BUNCH OF BANANA STOOPS WHERE IT IS’

 Analysis of ‘MY BROTHER’

CHAPTER FOUR: ANALYSIS OF NOVELS

 PASSED LIKE A SHADOW

 UNANSWERED CRIES

CHAPTER FIVE: ANALYSIS OF PLAYS

 BLACK HERMIT

 THE LION AND THE JEWEL

CHAPTER SIX: ANALYSIS OF POETRY

 Part One: Analysis of ‘Song of Lawino’

 Part Two: Analysis of ‘Lost Beauty’

 Part Three: Analysis of ‘Eat More’

 Part Four: Analysis of ‘Ballad of the Landlord’

 Part Five: Analysis of ‘If We Must Die’

 Part Six: Analysis of ‘Your Pain’

 Part Seven: Analysis of ‘An Abandoned Bundle’




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EcoleBooks | Summary Analysis of The Lion and the Jewel Play

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