The Lion and the Jewel Questions and Answers
by Wole Soyinka

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What are the main themes developed in "The Lion and the Jewel" by Wole Soyinka?

What are  the main themes developed in "The Lion and the Jewel" by Wole Soyinka?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One of the play's main themes is the nature of manhood. In their own unique ways Lakunle and Baroka embody competing ideals of what it means to be a man in a traditional village society becoming ever more exposed to the cultural influences of the modern world.

The Westernized, educated Lakunle sees traditional notions of manhood as problematic, as outmoded remnants of what he regards as a backward, primitive society. Baroka, on the other hand, is very much of the old school. For him, to be a man means to be strong, dominant, and above all, virile.

That Sidi ends up choosing him over Lakunle appears to vindicate his traditionalist world-view. Sidi's choice develops the theme of the nature of manhood further, posing the question as to the extent to which women enable and reinforce the values of patriarchal societies.

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A theme is the central idea within any text (short story, poem, novel, for example). This idea repeats itself throughout a work, drawing the attention of the reader to its importance. In some cases, a theme is used to illustrate the importance behind a moral, lesson, or point. 

In regards to Wole Soyinka's play "The Lion and the Jewel," numerous themes are woven throughout its entirety. The themes of power and love separate themselves from other actions of the text through their repetition. The theme of love is elevated through "speak" of the conflict between modernization and traditionalism, progress, women as property (and their desire to change this ideology), and education. The theme of love, on the other hand, is illustrated through the triangular relationship of Lakunle, Sidi, and Bale. 

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kapokkid eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One of the main themes is the idea of sexual impotence on the part of Lakunle, a young and modern man who is vying for the affections of Sidi, the village beauty.  The opposition in this quest is "The Bale" the old lion of the village.

Lakunle attempts to be committed to his cause of seeking modernity and making social changes, and hopes that this will be enough to attract Sidi to him, but he is unable to actually effectively flirt with her and half-plays at platonic love for her.

The Bale, on the other hand, is wise and cunning and despite his old age, proves to be more than a match for Lakunle in winning the heart and affection of Sidi.

So the conflict of modern and sophisticated vs. perhaps someone traditional but crafty is a theme, as is the underlying importance of sexual power and influence compared to the overt image created or projected by people.

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It is a very entertaining play, with only three acts, so if you haven't already, I highly recommend reading it.  For a brief summary however, I have provided a link below, and that should help.

One of the main themes in the play is the theme of progression versus tradition, represented in the two main male characters, the progressive schoolteacher Lakunle, and the traditional tribal chief Bale "The Lion".  Throughout the entire play they combat ideals and beliefs, all in the ruse of winning Sidi's love.  Sidi herself is encapsulated by this theme, representing many of the Nigerian people's indecision between tradition and modernism.  She sees value in them both, and it is hard for her to commit to one view over another; many of the Nigerians of the time period were caught in this trap, not sure which world to live in.

For more details on characters and plot, take a look at the links below, and good luck!

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gabbyswaqq | Student

Compare the beliefs of Sidi and Lakunle

shahinasi | Student

this is the smmary of the play. this play consists 3 section as morning . noon and night.


A schoolteacher is teaching a class the times table when Sidi walks past carrying a pail of water on her head. The teacher peers out of the window and disappears. Two 11-year-old schoolboys start ogling her, so he hits them on the head and leaves to confront her. At this point, we find out that the schoolteacher is Lakunle. He is described as wearing a threadbare and rumpled clean English suit that is a little too small for him. He wears a tie that disappears beneath his waistcoat. His trousers are ridiculously oversized, and his shoes are blanco-white. He comes out and insists on taking the pail from Sidi. She refuses, saying that she would look silly. Lakunle retorts, saying that he told her not to carry loads on her head or her neck may be shortened. He also tells her not to expose so much of her cleavage with the cloth she wears around her breasts. Sidi says that it is too inconvenient for her to do so. She scolds him, saying that the village thinks him stupid, but Lakunle says that he is not so easily cowed by taunts. Lakunle also insults her, saying that her brain is smaller than his. He claims that his books say so. Sidi is angry.


When they are done arguing, Sidi wants to leave, but Lakunle tells her of his love for her. Sidi says that she does not care for his love. Eventually, we find out that Sidi does not want to marry him because Lakunle refuses to pay her bride-price as he thinks it a uncivilised, outrageous custom. Sidi tells him that if she did so, people will jeer at her, saying that she is not a virgin. Lakunle further professes how he wants to marry her and treat her "just like theLagoscouples I have seen". Sidi does not care. She also says that she finds the Western custom of kissing repulsive. She tells him that not paying her bride price is mean and miserly.