Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Forest Father

Forest Father or Forest Head, the chief god who controls the universe of this play. In the pantheon of Yoruba gods, he is called Osanyin (oh-SAH-nyihn). He is the supreme arbiter who rules both humans and lesser gods. Because he represents the divine qualities of justice and mercy, he despairs of the continuous evil of humanity’s history but believes that humankind may be improved if mortals can be made to admit the consequences of their acts as part of history. He designs the dance to expose past and present wickedness. He is concerned and sympathetic but all-powerful, reserving his supreme power to restrain and ultimately decide the outcome of the dance and therefore the outcome of the world. In his mortal guise, he masquerades as Obaneji, who leads the party into the forest.


Aroni (ah-ROH-nee), “the Lame One” who opens the play. He is the messenger of the great Forest Head, and it is he who selects the dead man and woman who reflect the violent past that lives on in the grim practices of the present-day characters.


Eshuro (ay-SHEW-roh), one of the aspects of Oro, god of the dead, who has qualities of the Yoruba god of mischief, Eshu. He is spiteful and antagonistic to humankind and demands from Forest Head vengeance against Demoke. He becomes the “figure in red” who controls the “bloody triplets” who, at the point of potential reconciliation, snatch the half-child representing the human future. It is his final chance to destroy the human race, as he so bitterly desires.


Agboreko (ahg-boh-RAY-koh), an Elder of the Sealed Lips who exists as a soothsayer between the two existences....

(The entire section is 759 words.)