A Dance of the Forests Questions and Answers
by Wole Soyinka

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Certain characters play double roles in A Dance of the Forests. Does this have any significance?

The characters who play double roles in A Dance of the Forests include the Forest Head and Obaneji, and Rola and Madame Tortoise. By drawing connections between past and present and the supernatural and natural realms, the author emphasizes the spiritual dimensions of contemporary life and the importance of traditional culture for modern Nigeria. The capricious nature of life is also stressed through the actions of Eshuoro, a trickster, who mixes up the identities.

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The primary story of the effects of Demoke’s actions is interconnected with the story of two ghostly characters, the Dead Man and the Dead Woman. This connection is emphasized through the doubling of the magical Forest Head with an ordinary human man named Obaneji. Likewise, the character of Rola in the present is doubled with the mythical Tortoise woman, and the artist Demoke is doubled with an ancient counterpart of a poet.

Through the use of different kinds of doubles (both disguised individuals and parallel sets...

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