Death and the King's Horseman by Wole Soyinka Essay

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In the play Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka, the author uses the representation of woman as the defenders of the Yoruba tradition. Soyinka tells us in this “Author’s note” that the play is based on an incident in Nigeria in 1949. In Yoruba tradition, it is the sacrifice of the king’s horseman that plays the essential role in bringing good fortune onto the community. While these leaders of the Yoruba culture are predominantly male, the role of the Yoruba woman as both defender and keeper of these traditions are of equal importance. The representation of men and women in Death and the King’s Horseman, demonstrates that nationalism is a gendered construct; in which the women are the stability in masculine nationalism. The…show more content…
In the play Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka, the author uses the representation of woman as the defenders of the Yoruba tradition. Soyinka tells us in this “Author’s note” that the play is based on an incident in Nigeria in 1949. In Yoruba tradition, it is the sacrifice of the king’s horseman that plays the essential role in bringing good fortune onto the community. While these leaders of the Yoruba culture are predominantly male, the role of the Yoruba woman as both defender and keeper of these traditions are of equal importance. The representation of men and women in Death and the King’s Horseman, demonstrates that nationalism is a gendered construct; in which the women are the stability in masculine nationalism. The characters Iyaloja, the daughters of the market, and the virgin bride play a role in persevering the Yoruba tradition from the colonizer, and also the males in their village. In the play the “mother of the marketplace”, Iyaloja, serves as a matriarchal figure of great importance in preserving the Yoruba traditions. The function of the “market place” serves as the site where cultural traditions are performed. In the first act, Elesin Oba, his praise singer accompanies the king’s horseman, to the market place. As Elesin observes the market women closing their stalls, “ This market is my roost. When I come among the woman I am a chicken with a thousand mothers. I become a monarch whose palace is built on tenderness and beauty” (). It is here that
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