The Roles of Women in Death and King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka Essay

The Roles of Women in Death and King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka Essay

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In his play Death and King’s Horseman, Wole Soyinka shows that women had important and recognized roles in traditional Yoruba society. Women fulfill their social, moral and spiritual roles as mothers, enforces of the discipline, show guidance to the community. Iyaloja, the Mother of the Market, is politically and spiritually critical. Aside from being the enforcer of discipline, her towering image in terms of influence is a great source of nourishment to the entire community. In the play, the women of the market are also capable of assuming positions of power, reducing man’s superiority. Wole Soyinka shows different ways of thinking about power, influence and responsibility.
The play opens with Elesin Oba, the king’s horseman, on the day of his appointed death. The king has died and his chief horseman is expected by law and custom to commit suicide and accompany his ruler to heaven. Walking among the woman of local market, followed by an entourage of drummers and a praise-singer, Elesin proclaims, “This market is my roost. When I come among the women I am a chicken with a hundred mothers. I become a monarch whose palace is built with tenderness and beauty.” Elesin refers to the women generally as mothers. To him, there is no other place that could offer such comfort. Here we see women playing their traditional roles as mothers, not as women who gave birth, but as women who nurture and support morally and spiritually. The women of the market sing his praises, dress Elesin in their richest cloths and dance around him. The women love to spoil their children, just like they love spoiling Elesin.
In the same scene, a young girl catches Elesin’s attention and he convinces the market women that he should be allowed to marry the girl on h...

... middle of paper ...

.... She accurately picks apart Elesin’s mistakes, and talks to Pilkings as if he is beneath her, even referring to him as a child. The last words in Wole Soyinka’s tragedy are given to Iyaloja. She directs the bride and the audience: “now forget the dead, forget even the living, turn your mind only to the unborn.” In the final line Iyaloja suggests to concentrate on the future, what it holds, and how to carry out their culture. Iyaloja execut
The women in Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman have proven to be responsible, strong, and to have will to carry out the future in the play. It is important to note that even the corpse of Olunde, who committed the ritual suicide in his father’s place, is carried in by women. Throughout the play, although women weren’t in the executive position, they have guided including the final passage of Olunde to the other side.

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