What flashbacks are found in Wole Soyinka's play The Lion and the Jewel?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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As a play that embodies African village culture, Wole Soyinka's The Lion and the Jewel is full of dancing and music. Many flashbacks are portrayed in the dances and pantomimes that accompany the dances.

One example of a flashback can be seen fairly early on in the play. Early on, a fight between Lakunle and Sidi is interrupted by village girls. During the fight, Lakunle tells her not to show so much cleavage, and she states she refuses to marry him because he won't pay her bride price. The village girls interrupt the fight to tell Sidi that "the stranger," meaning the white photographer, has just returned to the village like he said he would, bringing the book he just made containing photographs of the village. Sidi shows her vanity when she asks the village girls if he had indeed brought the book that he promised would "bestow upon [her] / Beauty beyond the dreams of a goddess?" (p. 10). After the village girls report that the stranger has returned, Sidi decides to orchestrate a ceremonial dance that mime's the stranger's first arrival to the village. During the dance, the village girls imitate the car that the stranger drove into the village while Lakunle imitates the drunken visitor himself, as we see in part of the stage directions: "A mime follows of the visitor's entry into Ilujinle, and his short stay among the villagers" (p. 14). Hence, since this dance captures the visitor's first arrival into the village, we know that the dance is being used as a flashback to his first arrival.

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