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 makes the character Lakunle interesting in The Lion and the Jewel?

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Lakunle in The Lion and the Jewel is an interesting character because he is unlike the rest of the villagers in Ilujinle. He rejects many of the village customs, like paying the bride price, and pushes for people like Sidi to accept modern ideas. Yet despite his knowledge of modernity, he often comes across as ignorant and hypocritical.

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Lakunle is an interesting character in The Lion and the Jewel for several reasons, particularly because of his modern way of thinking. He stands out because he is unlike most people in the village of Ilujinle. He is interested in Western ideas and wants to bring modern customs to the village. For instance, recall the scene early on in which Lakunle takes the pail of water that Sidi is carrying on her head. Sidi views this way of carrying water as practical, and it is what women in the village do. But Lakunle does not like the image of a woman doing this. Right away, we see that Lakunle fervently rejects activities that the villagers do not think twice about. He critiques things like this several times throughout the play, sometimes in such a melodramatic way that it is entertaining.

One of the main customs that Lakunle rejects is the bride price. He really wants to marry Sidi, but he refuses to pay the bride price for her, which is like a dowry. He feels the bride price is a degrading and antiquated custom, but Sidi is insulted by this, because she is committed to the ways of Ilujinle. Sidi is a beautiful woman whom lots of men covet, so it is interesting that Lakunle is so committed to his values that he will not budge on his feelings about the bride price to have her.

Yet even though Lakunle thinks he is extremely intellectual and well-versed in modern ideals, he does not seem to know what incorporating Western values into his village would look like. Instead, he tends to just insult the behavior of people like Sidi and Sadiku, rather than explain his point of view in a calm, respectful, and convincing manner.

Some of his behavior also comes across as hypocritical, since he berates Sidi for participating in customs he feels are demeaning but then frequently disparages her himself. He is also not entirely against everything in the village, like the dance performances, which suggests he has a bit of internal conflict about modernity and tradition.

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What makes Lakunle an interesting character?      

Lakunle is an interesting character because he is unique in his village of Ilujinle. Lakunle, unlike the other villagers, values Western civilization and supports modernity. He openly criticizes tradition ways of life and attempts to influence other characters in sharing his vision. He is well read and many of his comments allude to Western values and include Christian morals. Despite being viewed with contempt by his community, Lakunle remains outspoken. Lakunle is also very dramatic which makes his character entertaining to watch. Even though Lakunle is an advocate for modernity and seems sincere, his true intentions are revealed when he tells Sidi that he will marry her under the condition that he will not have to pay the bride price. Overall, Lakunle is a unique character with strong views and adds to the entertainment value of the play.

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