The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka
The three main characters in ‘The Lion and the Jewel’ are called Sidi,
Lakunle and Baroka the Bale. Each character has different thoughts
about one another and each views the society in a different way. This
essay introduces and describes each character and analyses their role
in the play.
Sidi is the first character that the audience meets. She is a very
attractive woman, known as the village ‘belle’. Her attractiveness
influences her personality, by making her quite vain. An example of
her vanity is when she receives photos through of her that featured in
a global magazine, taken by a western man. The photographs, also
affect Sidi’s perception of Baroka, by making her believe that she is
a better person, judging by the picture size difference in the
Sidi is heavily influenced by tradition, which is outlined more than
once throughout the play. The opening scene shows how Lakunle offers
to carry Sidi’s load. Sidi refuses, because it is traditionally the
woman that carries the load and if other people saw, then Sidi is
afraid that people may start to shun or mock her. The relationship
between Lakunle and Sidi is clarified when Sidi asks for a Bride
Price. Lakunle is reluctant to give her money and insists that she
take his token of love and loyalty instead. Due to Sidi’s heavy belief
in tradition, she has to decline his offer and demand the bride money.
If she accepts his offer, then her value and status in the village can
potentially be diminished.
Sidi tries to be quite intelligent by making remarks that counter act
another persons. However, Baroka and Sadiku trick Sidi into marrying
Baroka and becoming his youngest wife. Even Sidi’s crafty tongue and
language usage is no match of intelligence that Baroka possesses.
Baroka uses Sidi’s vanity to manipulate her into thinking that she can
have her head on the village’s stamp, so that she would be the
figurehead. Naturally Sidi is entranced by this thought and complies
with him. Baroka knows that Sidi likes to be told how beautiful she
is, and if he could harness this desire, then seducing her would
become much easier. After he manages to seduce her, Sidi feels tricked
and disgusted and does not want anything to do with the Bale either.
She does however know that because she has slept with the Bale, she is
no longer a virgin and therefore stays with Baroka as his latest
addition to his wives. Sidi also decides to stay with the Bale, due to
tradition, which she strongly believes in i.e. the Bale has the
‘Belle’ or in this case the ‘Lion’ has the ‘Jewel’.
Lakunle is classified as a ‘stranger’ to the village because of his
western ideas. This is also reflected in the dance that occurs just
before ‘noon’. Lakunle is a schoolteacher in the village, which is
already a sign that his western ideas are slowly trying to creep them
into the village, by educating his students...