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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Is The Lion and the Jewel a comedy?

Quick answer:

Yes, The Lion and the Jewel is a comedy, both in its structure, concluding with a marriage, and its content.

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The category of "comedy" is a wide one, encompassing such literary works as Dante's Divine Comedy, which is not remotely funny. It has often been used to refer to any work of literature with a happy ending or any work that is not a tragedy.

Wole Soyinka's play The Lion and the Jewel is a comedy by any definition. It follows the structure of classical comedy, beginning with romantic complications and ending with a marriage ceremony. However, it subverts the common comic motif of the young couple whose love is threatened when an older man pursues the girl, usually with the approval of her parents. In The Lion and the Jewel, it is the old man, Baroka, who wins the love of the heroine, while his young rival, Lakunle, is humiliated.

This subversion of the traditional ending, however, does nothing to detract from the comedy in the play. Indeed, it adds to the sense of riotous absurdity which is a feature of the writing. The Lion and the Jewel, therefore, is a comedy in both structure and content and in both the ancient and modern senses of the word, making Lakunle a foolish figure of satire who represents the ignorance and arrogance of those who want to destroy African traditions.

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