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Assignment 3-The Lion and the Jewel

Assignment 3-The Lion and the Jewel


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Published by Saneka Setram
The lion and the jewel by wole soyinka
The lion and the jewel by wole soyinka

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Published by: Saneka Setram on Aug 30, 2010
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Assignment 3: Examine the dramatic presentation of conflict in a play you have studied in this course.

(No more than 500 words).

Throughout the years several African societies have experienced conflicts with the western world. These conflicts provide African dramatists, who are interested in preserving different aspects of the African culture, with issues that need to be addressed. One such African dramatist is the 1986 Nobel Prize winner for Literature Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka. According to critics Soyinka as a child became increasingly aware of the pull between African tradition and Western modernization. Soyinka·s play ,The Lion and the Jewel, written and performed in 1959, shows his awareness of this pull - the drama centres around a village girl whose name is Sidi and the competition between Baroka ,the Bale of her village Ilujinle and Lakunle ,the school teacher for her hand in marriage. As a result of the rivalry between these two males the audience becomes aware of a conflict - traditionalism versus modernism. Hence, the need to examine the dramatic presentation of traditionalism versus modernism in the play.

Soyinka uses the characters of the play to represent traditionalism versus modernism. Through the actions of Baroka and Lakunle the audience is made aware of the sharp contrast between the two men. In the play, Baroka represents the figure of tradition while Lakunle represents the typical

African who has embraced European ideologies and thus seeks to erode traditional ideals. According to critics , Sidi,-the prize being sought by both men represents the Yoruba people who are caught in the web of indecision choose modernism or retain not their traditional standards. When Lakunle does

get to marry Sidi, the playwright subtly suggests to the audience that

the marriage between Lakunle and Sidi would not work because he is wrong for her and as lost his sense of self. In essence, Soyinka conveys the idea that a

traditionalism is superior to modernism. He adds merit to this suggestion by fusing Sidi-the prize and Boraka together.

Another way the playwright presents traditionalism versus modernism in the play is through the language. Language is very important because certain choice of words convey to the audience attitudes toward tradition and modernization. Soyinka uses Baroka ¶s choice of words to convey wisdom: µThe proof of wisdom is the wish to learn Even from children. And the haste of youth Must learn to temper the gloss...µ whilst Lakunle ¶s diction is a regurgitation of what he reads: µIt is in my books.

Women have smaller brain than men That is why they are called the weaker sex.µ Thus the playwright conveys to the audience the view that traditionalism

offers wisdom because it is filled with proverbs (oral) while modernism is built upon book knowledge (written) and not independent thoughts. In essence, tradition is portrayed in a positive light while modernism in a negative one.

In addition, culture is used by Soyinka to depict traditionalism versus modernism in the play. The difference of opinions in wedding practices (culture) is presented in a conversation between Sidi and Lakunle: ´ Sidi: I shall marry you today ... But my bride-price must first be paid... They will say I was no virgin... Lakunle: ...A savage custom, barbaric, out-dated...µ Thus the audience sees that he is unwilling to pay a bride price while she insists on it, in order to maintain her honour as a woman in the village. Through this discourse the playwright shows the audience that traditional values such as this cultural practice is important because it as a purpose whereas modernization

does not promote such principles. In essence, tradition will be retained over modernism.

The Lion and

the Jewel is a play which depicts conflicts such as

traditionalism versus modernism. The playwright uses this play to show that traditional values will be retained because it is more superior to modernization. This becomes apparent through the characters , language and culture. The play is truly a great literary work by Soyinka.

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