Which 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 Demoke/the ancient poet, Obaneji/the Forest Father, and Rola/Madame Tortoise. The pairings present important connections between the realms of body and spirit, past and present, and humanity and nature.

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In A Dance of the Forests, Demoke's role is doubled with that of an ancient court poet, Obaneji's with that of the Forest Father, and Rola's with that of Madame Tortoise. All these pairings emphasize significant connections, between past and present, humanity and nature, and the physical and spiritual realms.

Demoke, the woodcarver, is tormented with guilt over the death of his apprentice, Oremole. His soul-searching reflects his sensitive, artistic nature, which is unable to dismiss Oremole's death as a mere accident. The redemptive power of art, which brings the artist face to face with his own fears and emotions, allowing him to overcome them, is a central theme in the play. This is why Demoke's ancient counterpart is also a creative artist.

Obaneji is disliked in the village because he keeps records of the inhabitants' lives, provoking suspicion. He is later revealed to be the all-powerful Forest Father, ruler of gods and mortals. The fact that he observes and records the deeds of the villagers in both roles reveals the essential connection between nature and humanity.

Rola is a sadistic woman who has used her sexual power to harm others, particularly the Dead Man and the Dead Woman, who play a central role in the dance. Having misused her beauty, she is doubled with the prostitute, Madame Tortoise.

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