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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What is the significance of marriage in The Lion and the Jewel?

Quick answer:

In The Lion and the Jewel, Sidi shows her acceptance of tribal culture by marrying the polygamous Baroka in a traditional tribal ceremony, rejecting both Lakunle and the Western modernization he represents.

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The love triangle that involves a young girl, a young man, and a wealthy, powerful, older man is one of the staples of comedy. The older man is tricked or thwarted so that the young couple can marry.

In The Lion and the Jewel, this structure is subverted. Baroka is an old man who has already been married many times. Lakunle is a young man with new ideas. Sidi has to choose between them and, unexpectedly and after some apparent equivocation, chooses the old man and his polygamous culture.

Like many comedies, The Lion and the Jewel ends with a marriage, which symbolizes the continuation of life and social order. In this case, the traditional marriage of Baroka and Sidi symbolizes the continuation of a specifically African culture, which has been threatened by Western reforms throughout the play.

It is not clear until the end of the final scene which one of her suitors Sidi will marry. Lakunle wants a monogamous Christian marriage, but it seems that if Sidi is too impatient to wait for the preparations for the ceremony to be made, he is willing to accept a traditional wedding. This shows that his reforming zeal is flexible and shallow. However, it eventually becomes clear that Lakunle is to be thwarted altogether, as he is only to be a guest at Sidi's wedding to his traditional, polygamous rival.

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