The Lion and The Jewel main character Sidi sitting in the middle of the picture wearing a striped dress with the outlines of two male faces on other side of her

The Lion and the Jewel

by Wole Soyinka

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Describe the dramatic roles of Sidi, Baroka, and Lakunle in The Lion and the Jewel.

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Let’s start with Sidi. Sidi is the jewel referred to in the play’s title,; she is beautiful and will choose one of the men of their remote village of Ilujinle to be her husband. Her dramatic role stems from the fact that she is aware of her charisma and physical appeal, and wishes to use these to pursue fame and a life of glamour far from the confines of her home town.

Baroka, the lion referred to in the title, is an elderly and well-respected member of the community. He is known for his wisdom and his understanding of the need to follow traditional African customs, while simultaneously not being a stickler for tradition and embracing the importance of modernity. He is one of the men pursuing Sidi, and with the help of some trickery, he eventually succeeds in becoming her husband, despite her initial reservations about his age.

Lakunle is a school teacher, who is portrayed as both naive and eager to please. He also claims to be a particularly modern character, which works to the detriment of his attempts to woo Sidi. Since he feels the payment of a bride price is old fashioned and demeaning to his future bride, he refuses to pay it. Despite all Sidi’s desire for fame a glamour, she still believes that the payment of the bride price will guarantee her rights in the future.

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Baroka is the lion of the title, while Sidi is the jewel. Baroka is a respected older man in the town, Sidi is a young woman with aspirations to leave town, and Lakunle is an overconfident young man who courts her.

Sidi has attracted the attention of Baroka as a possible second wife, but she is also sought after by Lakunle. Originally from the town, he had left to pursue an education and has returned as a teacher. Because of Sidi’s beauty and charm, of which she is well aware, a visiting photographer has taken some photographs of her, which she is confident can become the basis of the fame that she seeks. With her confident, assertive manner, she enjoys the men’s attention but during most of the play is not interested in marriage or remaining in her hometown.

Through Sidi’s bantering with Lakunle, the audience comes to see that, despite his avowedly modern ideas, he retains a patriarchal worldview. Speaking to her in a condescending manner, he asserts the correctness of his positions. While he sees himself as superior because of his education and broader experience, in reality he patronizes her because he does not value women—as exemplified by the bride price—or their opinions.

Along with his high status in the community, Baroka has the advantage of having a very clever wife, Sadiku. She understands that his prestige will soar if he wins Sidi’s hand, so she decides to help him win her over. Lakunle’s confidence is shattered when he realizes that Sidi is not just a dreamer but has a decidedly pragmatic attitude. Marrying Baroka is her best option, so she chooses him over Lakunle or an uncertain future elsewhere.

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Sidi is the village belle and the object of Lakunle and Baroka's affection throughout the play The Lion and the Jewel. She is a beautiful girl but is conceited and rather simple. After seeing her images in a magazine, she becomes full of herself. Sidi refuses to marry Lakunle and even rejects Baroka's marriage proposal. Sidi believes Sadiku's rumor that the Bale is impotent and visits Baroka to mock him. Unsuspectingly, the Bale is able to charm Sidi, and she loses her virginity to Baroka. Sidi then accepts the fact that she is no longer a maid and decides to marry Baroka instead of Lakunle.

Baroka is the aging Bale in the village of Ilujinle. He is the most highly esteemed member of the village, and is the wisest character throughout the play. Although Baroka embraces traditional African customs, he is not fully opposed to modernization and progress. Baroka comes up with a cunning plan to win Sidi's heart by telling his head wife, Sadiku, that he is impotent. Sadiku is a notorious gossip, and the Bale knows that she will spread the rumor about his condition. His plan works to perfection, and Sidi enters his room under the belief that he cannot perform sexually. He charms Sidi by showing her a stamp machine and promises that her image will adorn every stamp coming from Ilujinle. Baroka successfully woos Sidi and he eventually marries her at the end of the play.

Lakunle is the village school teacher who values Western civilization and is a proponent of modernization and progress. He tries to come across as intelligent by using "big words," but the majority of the community views him as a madman and fool. He has grandiose ideas regarding the future of Ilujinle and strictly opposes traditional customs. Lakunle refuses to pay the bride-price and initially tells Sidi that it is a savage custom. He comes across as shallow and insincere at the end of the play when it is revealed that his true intention was simply to avoid paying the bride-price. He does not marry Sidi, and quickly forgets her as he chases another young maid during the wedding ceremony.

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Describe the dramatic roles of the characters of Sidi, Lakunle, and Baroka in the play The Lion and the Jewel.

Sidi is the village belle of Ilujinle, who becomes conceited after a photographer publishes beautiful pictures of her in a magazine. She rejects the idea of marrying the village schoolteacher, Lakunle, because he refuses to pay the bride-price, and she initially resists Baroka's advances to court her. Sidi is a rude and immature girl who decides to attend Baroka's dinner after hearing the rumor that Baroka is impotent. Her wish is to make fun of Baroka during the dinner, but Baroka outsmarts her. She becomes obsessed with the idea of having her image printed on stamps from Ilujinle after Baroka shows her a broken machine that produces stamps. Sidi sleeps with Baroka and is initially ashamed following her decision to have sex with the Bale. However, she remains indignant towards Lakunle and chooses to marry Baroka.

Lakunle plays the role of the village schoolteacher. He values Western civilization and wishes that the village of Ilujinle would modernize and grow like other developing African cities. Lakunle is a rather comical character who clumsily tries to portray himself as intelligent by quoting the Bible and using "big words." His attempts to woo Sidi fail, and his true intentions are revealed at the end of the play when Sidi loses her virginity. He now has a legitimate excuse not to pay the bride-price, but Sidi still chooses to marry Baroka over him. Lakunle's character depicts Western values which are outwardly rational and advanced, yet inwardly shallow and deceptive.

Baroka plays the role of the village Bale. Although he is old, Baroka is the most masculine individual in the entire village and is revered for his strength, wisdom, and prestige. Baroka is a womanizer who embodies traditional African tribal culture. Despite his character flaws, Baroka gains favor in the audience's eyes because he is accepting of modernization and is an intelligent man. At the end of the play, he successfully wins over Sidi, and his reputation is restored.

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