The Third Stage By Wole Soyinka

1873 Words8 Pages
In his essay, ' 'The Fourth Stage ' ' which ' ' helped to establish [his] reputation as a myth critic, a drama theorist and a master of language ' ', Soyinka attempts to investigate the origin of Yoruba tragedy ( Madaukor 8). He is of the view that in Yoruba world view, tragedy originated from gods ' consciousness of their incompleteness or what he terms the ' ' anguish of severance ' '; ' '[t]he tragedy in Yoruba traditional drama, is the anguish of this severance, the fragmentation of essence from self ' ' (Myth 145). In other words, the gods who have become isolated from the world of men are eager for ' 'complementary ' ' which was lost and balance was destroyed as a result of a ' 'curse ' ' (19). The interaction of the divine and…show more content…
In this way, he created harmony in the Yoruba world of gods and humans.

In order to keep balance and harmony in Yoruba world, some pre-eminent people, usually leaders or rulers have to sacrifice themselves on behalf of the community. This notion is reflected in Death and the King 's Horseman; Elesin Oba, the King 's Horseman, who has been extremely honoured as a great chief as well as the King 's close friend, has to join the dead king in his journey to the world of the ancestors; by so doing, he brings the world of gods and ancestors closer to that of the living. Consequently, he maintains balance and harmony in the Yoruba world and thus makes for its well-being. Elesin adopts all Yoruba beliefs and has faith in all its values and duties. He is ' 'the embodiment of the culture of his people and as such he has an awful responsibility. It is quite simply that on him depends the future, on him depends the existence itself ' ' (Bowman 89). Elesin has to play the heroic role played by Ogun in order to bridge the gap between man and the gods. He has to cross the dangerous abyss between the world of the living and that of the ancestors but this demands a strong will as that of Ogun. Elesin has the desire to make this journey but his attachment to worldly pleasures damages his will; his love of women comes in the way of fulfilling his ' ' sacred duty. ' '

The play opens with the significant Stage Directions:

A passage through the market in its
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