The Lion and the Jewel Questions and Answers
by Wole Soyinka

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How does Wole Soyinka present women in the play The Lion and the Jewel?

Wole Soyinka presents women in the play The Lion and the Jewel as being caught up in the battle between tradition and modernity. There’s no sense in which women, in the shape of Sidi, get to decide how they should live their lives. This is because they are denied independence by both of these opposing worldviews.

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At the heart of The Lion and the Jewel is a fierce battle between tradition and modernity. When Soyinka wrote the play, there were deep tensions between those who wanted Nigeria to become more Westernized and modern and those who favored the maintenance of traditional values. And these tensions are played out in the battle between Baroka and Lakunle over Sidi, whom the two men both wish to marry.

Though Baroka and Lakunkle have radically opposing worldviews—Baroka is a traditionalist whereas Lakunkle is thoroughly Westernized—they both share the same attitudes towards women. Neither of them looks upon women as capable of leading independent lives; they firmly believe that women must remain dependent on their husbands. The idea of Sidi, or any other woman for that matter, going off and doing her own thing simply doesn’t occur to either of them for a moment.

If the fate of Sidi is anything to go by, then the outlook for Nigerian women is pretty grim, to say the least. This is because...

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