In Wole Soyinka's The Lion and the Jewel, how does Baroka seduce Sidi? 

In Wole Soyinka's The Lion and the Jewel, how does Baroka seduce Sidi?


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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Baroka spreads a lie that he is impotent and invites Sidi to come to supper even though she rejects his marriage offer. Once she is there, he tempts her vanity in such a way that she is awed and silenced. While Sidi is in this state, Baroka manages to seduce her.

Baroka, the Bale and village "ruler," is crafty and knows just how to appeal to Sidi's vanity, which is amplified now because of the glossy images of her face and body in the magazine Lakunle showed her earlier:

SIDI: Look, judge for yourself. [Opens the magazine and points out the pictures.]. . .
He's old. . . To think I took
No notice of my velvet skin. . . 
I am the twinkle of a jewel
But he is the hind-quarters of a lion!

Baroka confides in his first wife, Sadiku, that he is impotent, which is a lie, knowing that Sadiku will spread it as gossip to everyone, including Sidi. He knows this knowledge will disarm Sidi's fear of him, based as it is on stories of young girls being seduced by him.

Baroka sends Sadiku to Sidi with a marriage proposal. When Sidi refuses to marry Baroka, Baroka invites her to supper anyway. After first making her feel insecure by ignoring and humiliating her for a wrestling match, he tempts her vanity by showing her a stamp-making machine, which is used for producing paper-tax stamps. Baroka promises to make thousands of stamps with Sidi's face on them.

BAROKA: The one redeeming grace on any paper-tax [stamp]
Shall be your face.
And mine,
The soul behind it all, worshipful
Of nature for her gift of youth
And beauty.

In Sidi's awed silence at the thought of her face—the face she's seen in the magazine images—spread throughout the land on thousands of paper-tax stamps, Baroka presses home his advantage, and Sidi is unable to resist his advances.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Baroka successfully seduces Sidi by cunningly devising a plan to make Sidi feel comfortable, then using Sidi's over confidence and infatuation with herself to woo her into sleeping with him. After finding out that Sidi has refused to marry him, Baroka lies to his head wife, Sadiku, and tells her that he is impotent. Baroka is well aware that Sadiku will gossip about his condition, which is exactly what Sadiku does. When Sidi hears about Baroka's impotence, she no longer fears his ability to woo and sleep with her. Sidi accepts Baroka's offer to have dinner at his palace because she plans on mocking him about his impotence. When she arrives, Baroka takes her into his room and shows her a machine that makes stamps. Although it is not operating at the moment, Baroka tells Sidi that one day it will print thousands of stamps with Sidi's beautiful image on them. Sidi becomes infatuated with the idea of her fame becoming legendary, and Baroka gently woos her with his smooth words and compliments. Sidi eventually feels comfortable and willingly sleeps with Baroka.

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The Lion and the Jewel

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