Home ENGLISH LANGUAGE PLAY: THE LION AND THE JEWEL LITERATURE FORM THREE

PLAY: THE LION AND THE JEWEL LITERATURE FORM THREE

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THE LION AND THE JEWEL

       THE LION AND THE JEWEL

PLAY WRIGHT: WOLE SOYINKA

SETTING: AFRICAN VILLAGE OF ILUJINLE

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1963

PUBLISHER: OXFORD UNIVERSITY

PRESS

BOOK SUMMARY

Generally the play talks about the clashes happen

between the modernists and traditionalists. Lakunle who is the school teacher presents the class of modernists who want to bring changes adopted from western culture while the villagers such as Sidi and the chief himself stand for the class of traditionalists who preserve their own culture.

THE SYNOPSIS OF THE PLAY

The title of the play is fundamentally symbolic whereby the lion stands for men and the jewel stands for women. From the play, chief Baroka is labeled as the Lion whereas Sidi is labeled as the Jewel. Chief Baroka is labeled as the lion because he uses women for enjoyment, he decides to marry any girl or women he wants inspite of having several wives. From the play, Chief Baroka tries to deceive Sidi who is to be married to the primary school teacher Lakunle.

He finally succeeds to marry her. This is because he deceives her that he is sexually impotent. When Sidi goes to Baroka’s house, Baroka takes her into his room and the wrestling match between Sidi and Baroka takes place.

Baroka achieves to make love with Sidi and he automatically marries her because he has become the first man to make love with her (Sidi). In succinct explanation, the play is about a so very naturally beautiful girl called Sidi.

Sidi is so cute to the extent that she is called the jewel of the Ilujinle society. A jewel is a person or thing that is very important or valuable. In the play, Baroka who is labeled the Lion is a womanizer, oppressive and deceitful.

For instance he sends his head wife (Sadiku) to Sidi. He furthermore, deceives his wives that he is sexually impotent so that Sadiku can go to Sidi to reveal this secret which is not true. His wives and Sidi believe that Chief Baroka is impotent, but later on, they find themselves to have been deceived because Chief Baroka succeeds to bed with Sidi and ultimately Sidi praises Baroka a lot that he is very powerful sexually despite his age.

At first Sidi was not interested to marry Baroka because Lakunle had started educating her about modernity. Wole Soyinka tells us that Sidi is willing to marry Lakunle but she insists that her bride-price should be paid first something that Lakunle was not willing to do so. In the end of the story, Lakunle feels, alienated (isolated) and of course totally betrayed by Sidi.

Chief Baroka seems to be stronger than Lakunle that’s why the chief (Lion) achieves to marry Sidi. Therefore, the story is all about the conflict between traditionalism against modernity whereby in the particular society, traditionalism seem to be stronger than modernity.

SUMMARY ACCORDING TO SECTIONS.

The play is divided into three sections, Morning, Noon and Evening as explained here below;

MORNING This section of play is set at the edge of the market, situated at the village centre. We see Sidi (a beautiful and virgin girl) with a pail on her head. We also see Lakunle, a teacher at the bush school.

Lakunle attempts to convince sidi so that she may agree with what he says. Lakunle talks to Sidi something which he learns in town which is strange to her. As a response Sidi says that she will marry Lakunle if her bride price is paid in advance. Unfortunately, Lakunle does not believe in paying bride price.

He looks at it as an act of buying women.  So Lakunle is not ready to pay bride price instead he wants to preach change so that people can stop paying pride price.

Moreover in this section, we are told about the stranger who has come with a map to Ilunjinle village and girl dancing style. When asked by girls Lakunle rejects claiming that dancing is for idiots (fools). This shows that there is a conflict between traditionalism and modernity.

Furthermore, Baroka in this section is introduced. Baroka wants to seize Lakunle because he wants to steal the village virgin girl (Sidi). As a contradiction the chief says that the wise people like Lakunle must be there so that they criticize when things go astray for that reason, Baroka is ready to be criticized. Therefore, as a summary this first section has clearly shown the conflicts between modernity and traditionalism.

NOON

The section is set at a road by the market. Here we see Lakunle carrying a bundle of fire wood which Sidi wanted

to collect. So, Lakunle helps Sidi to carry the firewood.

The two meet old women with a shawl on her head. She

is Sadiku the chief’s wife who tells Sidi that she has been

sent by the lion meaning Baroka the chief. By saying

that she will be the elder wife of the next chief. Sidi takes

this idea as bad because she thinks Baroka will simply

use her as instrument of enjoyment. She openly declares

that she has learnt a lot from Lakunle so she is now

gender conscious. Sidi’s negation surprises Sadiku

because it is un common for any girl to reject the chief’s

proposal. Sidi gives the reason for her refusal that they

have different ages. Also Sadiku asks her to sup with

Bale (Chief) Sidi rejects again and says that she cannot

eat supper with married men. In addition to that Sidi

argues that all girls who sup with chief become his wives

or concubines. She concludes that Baroka is a

womanizer.

In the same section we see Baroka uses women as

instrument of enjoyment as we can see his favorite wife

cuts his armpit’s hair. He says that he enjoys being cut

by a woman. When he is given the report of Sidi’s refusal,

Baroka gets angry hence he traps Sidi by telling his wife

that he is no longer sexually powerful he is IMPORTENT.

NIGHT

This takes place at the village centre. This time we see

Sidi at school room window, looking at her pictures.

Then we see Sadiku coming with a carved figure of

Baroka. The figure is naked. This amuses and amazes

Sidi.

Sidi understand what Sadiku means when she tells her

about Baroka’s impotence. So, Sadiku views Sidi as a

winner as she refused to marry Baroka. The two women

congratulate each other that now have a say in the sight

of men. So feminism is at work. Sadiku advises Sidi to

go and eat the supper at Baroka’s place because they

believe that he will do nothing since he is impotent.

Hearing that, Lankule advices Sidi to do not go to the

place but Sidi reject Lakunle’s advice. She goes to the

palace to see Baroka in order to mock him as she

believes that Baroka is impotent as she has been told.

Later we see Sadiku advising Lakunle to engage himself

in farming so that he may get the bride price for

marrying Sidi. Lakunle, further, says that no man will be

marrying more than one wife.

Then we see Sidi at palace trying to see if it is true that

Baroka is impotent. It is then discovered that Baroka is

not impotent as he previously claimed to be. This is

evidenced by him sleeping with Sidi. So it is discovered

that Baroka was tricky by telling his wife that he is

impotent. Un expectedly, Sidi is prepared to marry

Baroka the chief. She praises Baroka a lot as she says

he is very powerful sexually despite being aged sixty.

Hence, Sidi says goodbye to Lakunle who has been

persistently asking her a hand for marriage.

THEMATIC ANALYSIS.

A theme is the central idea within any text (short story,

play, poem, and novel, for example). This idea repeats

itself throughout a work, drawing the attention of the

reader to its importance. In some cases, a theme is used

to illustrate the importance behind a moral, lesson, or

point.

Sidi is shown to protest against the new ideas

brought by Lakunle who considers bride price as an

out-dated custom. (Pg 7), Sidi says that she is ready

to be married any day but her bride price must first

be paid. Lakunle protests against bad African

traditions and customs. For example he is against

bride-price and forced marriages.

1.

BETRAYAL

The term betrayal is defined as the act of not being

faithful to something or someone. In other words, it

refers to an act which indicates a lack of loyalty to

somebody or something. In the play it is shown that

after getting western education Lakunle betrays his

traditional e.g. paying bride price. He appears stranger in

his own country. For example, he refuses to pay bride

price claiming that it is primitive custom. He also talks

about having a collage to teach people how to dance,

wearing high heeled shoes and other things which are

not of any benefit to the society. According to Baroka the

society is better to live without any new thing. (Pg 9)

Lakunle disappears and leaves his class when Sidi

passes with her pail. This shows how irresponsible

Lakunle is. Lakunle is busy with Sidi arguing about their

personal love instead of teaching; this disqualifies him

to be a good teacher. He makes up his mind to go back

while it is too late.

CULTURE INTERFERENCE

Lakunle is shown to bring new changes adopted from

western culture which interfere with traditional ways of

living. Modern ways of living imposed by Lakunle are

shown to get strongly opposed by the traditionalists like

Sidi. Example he wants the villagers to forget about the

bride price, kissing and dancing in western ways.

MISUSE OF POWER/POOR LEADERSHIP

The playwright labeled chief Baroka (the Bale of Ilujinle)

as a leader who is irresponsible; as he is always busy for

women not for the development of his people, he is also

labeled as a womanizer. He uses his position and riches

to oppress and discriminate women something of which

is not good at all. Furthermore, Wole Soyinka labels

Baroka as a leader who is not educated. For example

when he meets Lakunle, he is heard saying “Akowe.

Teacher wa Misita Lakunle” he further says “Guru Morin

guru moring”. Something which reveals that he cannot

even master his language. Also Baroka uses his title to

drive the village on his own ways. Example, he

commands Sadiku to go and collect a number of brides

for him. Also in (Page 17) he uses his power to

embarrass Lakunle by seizing him, and commands his

attendants to serve him a slap. This shows there is the

power that operates to the people who are less powered.

AWARENESS

This is revealed when Sadiku visits Sidi; Sadiku says “ I

bring a message from my Lord, Baroka wants you for a

wife” Sadiku says “My Lord says that if you would not be

his wife, would you at least come to supper at his houses

to night There is a small feast in your honor …..” Sidi

replies by saying “Ho ho! Do you think that I was born

yesterday? The tales of Baroka’s little suppers, I know all;

tell your lord that Sidi does not sup with married men.”

This shows that Sidi is aware of Baroka’s behaviour.

Is the custom of having many wives at the same time.

For example, in the play, the playwright reveals to us that

Baroka is portrayed as a man who struggles to have

many wives as he can. He has his elder wife called

Sadiku, his favorite called Ailatu and yet he struggles to

have Sidi. This shows that there is a polygamous life

within the village of Ilujinle.

This is an act of making people believe something which

is not true. Chief Baroka is deceitful. This is because he

deceives his head wife (Sadiku) that he is no man

(sexually powerless) something which is not true. The

aim of deceiving his wife is to make this secret known to

Sidi so much that Sidi may not afraid of him. Sadiku tells

the secret to Sidi. As the result, when Sidi pays a visit to

Baroka’s palace, Baroka succeeds to make love with Sidi.

In (Pg 29).

Both, Sidi and Sadiku are shown to be ignorant ones. In

(Pg 37), Lakunle tells Sadiku that her mind is simple. He

says that Sadiku is at the age of seventy but she does

not not how to read, write and think. Also in (Pg 53) Sidi

complains about the sayings given by Baroka. She says

that the sayings are bored at her eyes and head. She

likes someone to state something clearly without any

hidden meaning.

POSITION OF A WOMAN IN A SOCIETY.

Women are labeled as weaker sex and have smaller

brains than men. For example Lakunle says “The

scientists have proved it, it is in my books. Women

have a smaller brain than men. That’s why they are

called the weaker sex”. This is humiliation to women

and is against the principle of fairness and justice i.e.

gender equity.

Women are considered to be commodities. Sidi

refuses to get married to Lakunle without bride-price.

Through bride price women are sold like

commodities or properties in the market stalls. For

example chief Baroka has many wives simply

because he is rich.

Women are described as beings that can easily be

tricked. They fall for the simplest tricks and lies. The

playwright shows this through Sidi who is tricked by

chief Baroka (the Lion) into sleeping with him, the

same trick that works with Sadiku (the Bale’s head

wife) who is tricked by the chief. For example Baroka

says “The time has come when I can fool myself no

more. I am no man, Sadiku. My manhood ended near

a week ago.” “I wanted Sidi because I still hoped- A

foolish thought I know, but still – I hoped that with a

virgin young and hot within, my failing strength would

rise and save my pride.” which was totally a lie.

Women are portrayed as illiterates, ignorant and

exploited as of their lack of even the most basic

education. A girl like Sidi is used by the playwright to

represent women of Africa who are illiterate and

exploited.

They are portrayed as the main upholders of

traditions. This is shown through Sidi who refuses to

marry Lakunle unless he pays the bride-price to Sidi;

marriage is all about a man being able to fulfill the

important customs such as paying the bride-price

without which marriage and love have no meaning.

They are alienated (discriminated) from making

important decisions which affect their lives in

particular. For example in the play, we see and hear

chief Baroka decides to marry another wife.

Women are portrayed as conservative (rigid) not

accepting changes. For example Sidi does not

accept any change whether good or bad. For

example she insists on the question of bride-price.

Women are portrayed as respectful; for example Sidi

maintains her virginity till marriage.

Women are hard-workers. For example Sidi is busy

fetching’ water and firewood. She carries big bundles

of firewood and big pots (pails) of water on her head

to the extent that Lakunle stops her. For example

Lakunle says “No I have told you not to carry loads on

your head” based on the argument that the loads will

shorten her neck very soon.

Women are portrayed as people who are obedient

and not jealousy. For example Sadiku obeys her

husband as she does whatever she is instructed.

Furthermore, Sadiku is sent to seduce Sidi to marry

chief Baroka.

Women are portrayed as people who are sexually

forced to marry people whom they don’t really love

by any means. For example Baroka tells Sidi that

“The truth of this, old wine thrives best within a new

bottle” and after losing her virginity to Baroka, Sidi is

heard praising him (chief) and she argues “Do you

see what strength he has given me? That was not bad.

For a man of sixty…… It was the secret of God’s own

draught.”

Both Ailatu and Sidi are taken to be the instruments

of pleasure. They both occupy the honor of being the

latest choice. If one becomes the latest choice of

Chief Baroka, her major task is to pull or pluck the

armpit hair. For this reason a worman is portrayed to

be the instrument since Baroka says that he feels

very sweet when his latest choice does so. (Pg 27)

A woman is portrayed as an inferior person who is

there to fulfill the order given by a man, example

Sadiku who is commanded by Lakunle.

CONFLICTS

The term conflict simply refers to the collision of

interests or ideas between two or more opposing groups

or sides. In this play, the writer shows various types of

conflicts as follows;

Sidi is in conflict with Lakunle because of the bride

price. Lakunle wants the village to get rid of the bride

price while Sidi doesn’t. She afraids that the villagers

would think that she is not virgin if she is married off

without the bride price. (In Pg 7)

Lakunle is shown to have conflicts with Sadiku, this

is because of Sidi. Lakunle wants to marry Sidi while

Sadiku persuades Sidi to marry Baroka.

Lakunle is in conflict with Baroka because of Sidi.

Both of them find themselves to have an interest in

her. In (Pg 58), Lakunle says he is ready to kill Baroka

though he is the village chief. He does not afraid the

prison, he wants to teach Baroka.

Village girls with Lakunle. This is when Lakunle insult

their native culture and promote western culture.

They finally decide to sing a song for him. (In Pg 14)

BRIDE PRICE

Refers to as money and/or property that in some

societies, a wife must pay to her husband when they get

married as thanks giving. OR money and/ or property,

that in some societies, a husband must pay to his wife’s

family when they get married. In the play, Sidi (the jewel)

refuses to marry Lakunle simply because Lakunle does

not want to pay the bride-price (dowry).

ALIENATION

Lakunle alienates himself from society. He feels, that

whatever is done by the society is primitive and it is he

who knows what the society should do. The society also

alienates him.

FORM ANALYSIS.

Wole Soyinka has madethe use of indirect or

symbolic title. One could think of a lion as an animal

and Jewel as the precious stone. The two terms

have been used symbolically to present the powerful

person called Baroka and the beautiful girl called

Sidi.

1.

The play is set in Yoruba village of Illujinle. It is

therefore the real setting; this is because the places

2.

mentioned do exist.

The play is arranged chronologically. The events

have been arranged from morning when Lakunle is

shown in his school and abandons the students,

noon when Sadiku meets Sidi and Lakunle to give

the message of the lion and night when Sidi gets

trapped with Baroka.

3.

DICTION (LANGUAGE USE)

Simple language has been used to make the play

understood.

Conversational language in dialogue between

characters.

Uses of oral literary devices (sayings) Example in (Pg

54), Baroka says “Old wine thrives best within a new

bottle” In (Pg 5), Lakunle says “Charity begins at

home”

The language is also rich in figures of speech

example; – Simile in (Pg 2) “As stubborn as an

illiterate goats”

Personification in (Pg 6), Lakunle says “My love will

open your mind” In (Pg 53), Sidi says “Your words fly on

a different path”

Metaphor in (Pg 58) Lakunle says Baroka is a creature of

the wilds.

The use of symbolism: The title is symbolic whereby the

Lion stands for men; chief Baroka in particular while the

Jewel symbolizes girls (beautiful girl like Sidi). The Lion;

Baroka is the chief of the village and despite his age, he

is still sexually active and still considered manly. Baraka

is searching for a new wife and wins over Sidi with his

manly ways. Baroka is compared to an African symbol

for strength, the lion which could be comparable to our

bear.

Lakunle: Lakunle represents the influence of western

society in the village. Lakunle was taught in a

western style manner and tries to promote those

ideas in the minds and hearts of his villagers.

Stamps: The stamps in which Baroka tempts Sidi to

put her face on represent the falsehood.

Photographer/magazine: The magazine symbolizes

the reoccurring theme of technology and western

culture dominating other cultures

The Bride-price: represents the village’s customs

which Lakunle feels are barbaric.

Sadiku: Baroka’s deceitful plan to win over Sidi.

Sadiku also symbolizes the gossipy woman who

cannot hold her tongue.

Hyperbolic language, example in (Pg 3), Sidi says “when

the whole world Knows of the madman of Ilujinle who

calls himself a teacher” This gives an example of the

hyperbole.

The use of vernacular language example the word

“Sango” and “ogun” which mean God They are not

English words. The playwright has mixed the language

with vernacular words.

FIGURES OF SPEECH

Satire; refers to as the act of mocking people in order to

show how foolish or incompetent they are. For example

when the girls call Lakunle for a dance, Lakunle says

“The dances are for fools” and when Sadiku is sent to

Sidi by Baroka, Sidi, rejects by saying “I can’t sup with

married men”

Metaphors; This is the comparison of two different

things without using conjunctions: for example, in page

47 Baroka says “Sadiku my faithful lizard”. Here Sadiku

is compared to a lizard. in (Pg 58) Lakunle says Baroka

is a creature of the wilds.

Proverbs; It is a well known phrase or sentence that

gives advice/lessons etcetera. For example Prof.

Soyinka uses “Old wine thrives within a new bottle”

Personification in (Pg 6), Lakunle says “My love will

open your mind” In (Pg 53), Sidi says “Your words fly on

a different path”

1. CHARACTERIZATION

BAROKA

-He is the lion hinted on the cover page

-The chief of Ilujinle village.

-The womanizer who struggles to collect the brides of

the Ilujinle village.

-The husband of Sadiku, Ailatu and Sidi.

SADIKU

– The elder wife of Chief Baroka

-The bride collector of Chief Baroka.

-She is an ignorant person since she is at the age of

seventy but does not know how read and write.

SIDI

-She is the jewel mentioned on the title

-She becomes very arrogant when her image appears on

the village magazine.

-She is a traditionalist who insists on the payment of

bride price.

-She is finally trapped by the trick of Baroka and

becomes his wife.

LAKUNLE

He is the village teacher

He is shown to fall in love with the village Belle (Sidi)

He is a modern man who prefers western culture to

African culture.

THE FAVORITE (AILATU)

-The latest choice of Baroka before he falls in love with

Sidi.

-She is taken to be the only wife whose task is to pluck

the armpit hair of Baroka.

-She becomes hungry when she hears the coming of

Sidi.

OTHER CHARACTERS

-A wrestler, surveyor, mummers, dancers, school boys and

village girls.

THE MESSAGE OF THE PLAY: Changes are necessary

for development but in order to make changes, the

society concerned should weigh the advantages over

disadvantages of those changes.

Example; African culture against western culture i.e.

polygamist and monogamist, pride price, European

dance etc.

THE RELEVANCE OF THE PLAY

The play relates to our contemporary society. For

instance the issues of misuse of power, ignorance,

bride-price, deceit, women oppression and

discrimination, polygamy, the influence of western

education and culture etc take place in our societies.

Therefore, one may proudly conclude that Professor

Wole Soyinka has successfully made his readers

aware of what is really happening in their respective

societies.

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