3426 View(s)

Death and the Kings Horseman by Wole Soyinka

Death and the Kings Horseman

Description :

Death and the King’s Horseman, one of Soyinka’s tragedies, presents a representation of the Yoruba worldview. In Yoruba cosmology, there are three worlds: the world of the living, the world of the dead, and the world of the unborn. This play focuses on what connects all three worlds—transition, the pathway on which members of the different worlds meet and interact.

The opening of the play involves the ritual ceremonies for the burial of a dead king. Elesin, the king’s horseman, attired in glorious robes, enters the village marketplace in a majestic dance procession, followed by praise-singers and drummers. Elesin dances until he is in a trance, a state of transition. He performs poetry and song about the world of the ancestors and the connectedness of the three worlds.

The purpose of this ceremony is to help the dead king travel peacefully to the world of the dead. It should conclude with the suicide of Elesin, whose soul will accompany the king’s. Elesin sees a beautiful woman in the crowd and demands one night of love with her before he dies. Iyaloja, the mother of the marketplace, reluctantly agrees.

Also in the village is the British colonial district officer, Pilking. He is well-meaning but unable to understand or respect the Yoruban people. He also performs a dance at a gathering of his own people—a mocking imitation of an African dance in captured regalia. When Pilking hears of Elesin’s intention to die, he has him arrested to prevent it.

Soyinka makes it clear in his preface that this is not a mere clash of cultures; this is not simply a case of the white colonialist interfering with native culture. Elesin has failed to perform his duty, and his failure has cosmic significance. The white officer is a catalyst, but he cannot otherwise affect the village. The cosmic world is untouched by colonialism and materialism.

Elesin’s son Olunde, a doctor, returns from England. He has heard of the king’s death and assumes that his father’s death is near. Olunde reveres native culture and has had wide experience of Western culture. He tries unsuccessfully to make Pilking understand Yoruban belief. Ashamed to see his father’s failure, he kills himself in Elesin’s place.

When Elesin sees his son’s body, he takes his own life. This suicide is the result of shame, however, not duty, and it cannot repair the bonds that have been broken. The young bride, pregnant from her one night with Elesin, appears. She ritually closes her husband’s eyes as Iyaloja says, “Now forget the dead, forget even the living. Turn your mind only to the unborn.”

In Death and the King's Horseman, Elesin Oba postpones his ritual death to pursue his pleasure. After the alafin (king) dies, he's supposed to kill himself to accompany the alafin in his passage to the afterlife, but begs for one more night of life in order to sleep with a beautiful woman. He's arrested, and his son Olunde kills himself in Elesin's place.

  • Elesin initially prepares to meet his death wholeheartedly, but at the last moment, he has second thoughts. He begs for one night with a woman called the Bride, who is betrothed to another man. He then impregnates her.

  • The district officer, Simon Pilkings, hears of Elesin's intention to kill himself. He arrests Elesin to prevent it, giving Elesin another excuse not to take his own life.

  • Shamed by his father's actions, Elesin's son Olunde kills himself in hopes of fulfilling his father's duty. His sacrifice is in vain, however, and Elesin commits suicide shortly after seeing Olunde's body.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Subtitle :

Authors : Wole Soyinka

Published Date : 2002

Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN : 0393322998

Page : 77 Pages

Categories : Drama

Total Download: 95

Filesize: 1 MB

Download PDF : death-and-the-kings-horseman.pdf

Alternative Link : death-and-the-kings-horseman.pdf

Related Ebooks:

  1. death of the leaping horseman by Jason D. Mark Revised edition of a rare account of a German armored division in combat at the epic Battle of Stalingrad. • Day-by-day story of the 24th Panzer Division's savage fighting in the streets of Stalingr.... Published date on: 2014-07-15 with total page: 560 pages. Publisher of Death of the Leaping Horseman is Stackpole Books.
  2. explorer's guide yosemite & the southern sierra nevada: includes mammoth lakes, sequoia, kings canyon & death valley: a great destination (second edition) (explorer's great destinations) by David T. Page Awarded the 2009 Bronze Medal in the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation's annual Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition: "Whether you want to stand on a glacier or have a beer with loc.... Published date on: 2011-06-06 with total page: pages. Publisher of Explorer's Guide Yosemi
  3. comes a horseman by Robert Liparulo The ancients saw Death as a blazing figure on horseback, swift and merciless. Those facing the black chasm often mistook their pounding hearts for the beating of hooves. Now, two FBI agents pursuing a.... Published date on: 2006-08-06 with total page: 496 pages. Publisher of Comes a Horseman is Thomas Nelson Inc.
  4. the first horseman by John Aberth This text intends to emphasis to students that widespread, deadly disease is not a distant historical phenomenon, but a continuing threat to humanity. It explains the economic, political, social, and .... Published date on: 2007 with total page: 177 pages. Publisher of The First Horseman is Prentice Hall.
  5. horseman, pass by by Larry McMurtry From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Lonesome Dove comes the novel that became the basis for the film Hud, starring Paul Newman. In classic Western style Larry McMurtry illustrates the timeless.... Published date on: 2010-06-01 with total page: 192 pages. Publisher of Horseman, Pass By is Simon and Schuster.

Related Ebooks by date:

  1. in retrospect by Robert S. McNamara, Brian VanDeMark The Secretary of Defense for the Kennedy and Johnson administrations provides an account of how and why America became involved in Vietnam and discusses the long-term ramifications of decisions made d.... Published date on: 1996 with total page: 518 pages. Publisher of In Retrospect is Vintage.
  2. encyclopedia of the vietnam war, the: a political, social, and military history by Spencer C. Tucker The Vietnam War lasted more than a decade, was the longest war in U.S. history, and cost the lives of nearly 60,000 American soldiers, as well as millions of Vietnamese—many of whom were uninvolved .... Published date on: 2011-05-20 with total page: 1804 pages. Publisher of Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, The: A Political, Social, and Military History is ABC-CLIO.
  3. in retrospect: after their military discharge, what factors enabled combat vietnam veterans to obtain a college degree and live a successful life, as defined by them? by Bradley M. Walck This phenomenological study was conducted with six combat Vietnam veterans who all entered the military at a young age with little or no higher education. To be eligible to participate in this study e.... Published date on: 2008 with total page: 183 pages. Publisher of In Retrospect: After Their Military Dischar
  4. argument without end by Robert S. McNamara, James G. Blight, Robert Kendall Brigham, Thomas J. Biersteker The former Secretary of Defense, and leading scholars from the U.S. and Vietnam, offer a groundbreaking new study of exactly how the Vietnam War happened-- and why it could not be stopped before three.... Published date on: 2000-04-28 with total page: 479 pages. Publisher of Argument Without End is Public Affairs.
  5. cuba on the brink by James G. Blight, Bruce J. Allyn, David A. Welch An account of the relationship between Cuba and the Soviet Union describes Castro's view of the American threat and dramatic exchanges between Castro and such conference participants as Anatoly I. Gri.... Published date on: 1993 with total page: 509 pages. Publisher of Cuba on the Brink is Pantheon.