The Lion and the Jewel Characters
by Wole Soyinka

The Lion and the Jewel book cover
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The Lion and the Jewel Characters

The main characters in The Lion and the Jewel are Sidi, Baroka, Lakunle, and Sadiku.

  • Sidi is a beautiful young woman whose photographs were recently featured in a magazine.
  • Baroka is the elderly leader of Ilujinle. After seeing Sidi’s photographs, he wants her to be his newest wife. 
  • Lakunle is a forward-thinking but generally hapless schoolteacher. He wants to marry Sidi but refuses to pay her bride price on account of his belief that it is a demeaning practice.
  • Sadiku is Baroka’s first wife and personal matchmaker. She conspires with Sidi to humiliate Baroka after discovering his alleged impotence.

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Characters

Sidi

Sidi is young, beautiful, and vain. As the most eligible young woman in the village of Ilujinle, she is courted by both the schoolteacher Lakunle and the village leader, Baroka. Sidi is sharp-tongued and strong-willed; Some of the trappings of modernity seem to appeal to her, but she does not share Lakunle’s mindless dismissal of tradition. When she argues with Lakunle over their supposed agreement to marry, she insinuates that his refusal to pay her bride price has less to do with equality and more to do with stubbornness. In her eyes, the bride price is an essential part of a respectable marriage, and if she agreed to marry Lakunle without a bride price, her honor and virtue would be called into question. Her sense of practicality is reinforced when she defends her traditional clothing and way of carrying the water pail: whereas Lakunle is concerned with the image presented of a scantily clad woman carrying water on her head, Sidi simply views it as the most efficient and comfortable way to perform the necessary task.

Despite Sidi’s practicality in some matters, she is also vain. Sidi’s power increases in both her own eyes and the eyes of others when a magazine featuring photographs of her appears in the village. When Baroka’s interest in Sidi deepens upon the publication of the magazine, Sidi’s vanity transforms into arrogance, and she conspires with Baroka’s first wife, Sadiku, to play a trick on him. However, Sidi’s pride is her undoing, and her efforts to humiliate Baroka fail. Instead, the crafty Bale rapes her, and Sidi agrees to marry him in the aftermath. 

Baroka

Baroka is the sixty-two-year-old Bale, or leader, of Ilujinle. He is a polygamist, and at the start of the play, five months have passed since he has taken a new wife. When the magazine appears with Sidi’s photographs, Baroka’s interest in Sidi transforms into a wish to marry her. In order to maintain his physical fitness, he wrestles with a man who is stronger than him. When Sidi rejects Baroka’s proposal on account of his age, he seemingly grows anxious, but his nervousness is a ruse. Though Sidi and Sadiku plot to play an emasculating trick on him, Baroka takes control of the situation and enacts revenge on Sidi. By forcing Sidi to marry him, Baroka exhibits his own craftiness as well as his determination to uphold traditional patriarchal norms.

Lakunle

A young schoolteacher enamored of both Sidi and modern ways of life, Lakunle attempts to court Sidi with misguided paternalistic gestures. Though Lakunle claims to be an educated man, he is ignorant and lacks common sense. Lakunle views traditional village life as beneath him and compares Ilujinle unfavorably with Lagos, a major city in Nigeria where modernity has arrived. Though Lakunle professes to love Sidi, he often disparages her and views her as less intelligent; as such, Lakunle is undaunted by Sidi’s rejections. Eventually, he believes, she will see that he, as a modern-thinking man, is her best option. By the end of the play, however, Lakunle is proven wrong; Sidi, having been outsmarted, decides to marry Baroka.

Sadiku

Sadiku is Baroka’s first wife, and though she treats him with deference when they are together, she attempts to emasculate him by conspiring with...

(The entire section is 900 words.)