Soyinka specifically calls the Colonial factors "an incident, a catalytic incident merely" and "the confrontation in the play is largely METAPHYSICAL, contained in the human vehicle which is Elesin...

Soyinka specifically calls the Colonial factors "an incident, a catalytic incident merely" and "the confrontation in the play is largely METAPHYSICAL, contained in the human vehicle which is Elesin and the universe of the Yoruba mind - the world of the living, the dead and the unborn.."   So  how can the play be read;  Politically  or Metaphysically??? What is the elements?
However, I think it is political, because the author has been indulged in political activities.. What is the political elements except colonial?

Asked on by ft-bh2007

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I am not entirely certain that anyone can mandate how a work of literature can be ready. Even the author cannot fully control how individuals perceive their work.  This means that Death and the King's Horseman could be read as a political work or as a metaphysical one.  Sometimes, one is enveloped in another.  

I can see the metaphysical aspect to Soyinka's work.  Part of the problem in stopping the planned suicide is that it violates a premise of the cosmological condition of the Yoruba.  There is a natural order that has been violated through human action.  The metaphysical condition here relates to how individuals view their role in the world.  Pilkings, and to an extent Elesin, both fail to fully adhere to the metaphysical cosmology that envelops them.  In each instance, they embrace their own condition in the world at the cost of the larger element. Soyinka suggests that his drama could not be seen as a political or cultural "clash."  He argues that because European colonial frames of reference failed to acknowledge the right of the indigenous to exist.  However, I think that it can be argued that in merely suggesting that the drama should not be seen as a cultural context, the drama lends itself to being viewed in a political context.  The natural condition in which the British rulers impose their own agenda and belief system on an indigenous people lends itself to being seen as a cultural drama.  In the process, a metaphysical condition is evident for individuals are pitted against forces larger than themselves.  Soyinka can insist on how the work is read, and we, as readers, can see it in this light. However, the reality where political antagonism between colonial forces and indigenous cultures is inescapable.  

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