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 the title "The Lion and the Jewel"?

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The title of The Lion and the Jewel refers to Baroka and Sidi. Metaphorically, Baroka is the strong, cunning lion who uses his status and power to get the beautiful Sidi to marry him. The young, vain Sidi, who calls herself “the jewel of Ilujinle,” is well known for her looks, and Baroka seeks the fame that would come from marrying her.

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The significance of the play's title lies in the symbolic nature of these two names. The "Lion" is an elderly man, Baroka, whose power and potency are referred to frequently, and his sexual potency is seen as indicative of his status as a man and, to some extent, as a ruler and chieftain of his village. The lion's symbolic meaning is one of the most legendary of the natural world. The singular male leader of a pride of male and female lions is often the eldest male of the pride. This male lion is dominant and is frequently challenged by younger males. The eldest male keeps his position of power by besting the other males in fighting or by intimidating them into backing down from challenging his dominance, thereby winning the right to mate with the females.

The "jewel" is not a living symbol, and this is appropriate since Sidi is considered valuable for her youth and beauty and is somewhat objectified. She is like a beautiful possession on display at Baroka's side, much like a piece of jewelry or a jewel in a crown. The precious nature of a jewel is often associated with royalty, so Sidi is not only an attractive companion, but also an asset to Baroka's standing as a monarch. Sidi is wooed by a younger man who also admires her beauty, but he is an intellectual and does not possess the animalistic power of the "lionlike" Baroka. It is as if Sidi needs this power of the flesh and blood to balance her abstract existence as an object of beauty. Also, since she is led to believe that Baroka is impotent, she may think her beauty and worth somehow reawaken his potency, thereby reaffirming her own precious value.

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The significance of the title The Lion and the Jewel depicts the relationship between the two leading characters of the play. The chieftain of the village Ilujinle, a Yoruba village in West Africa, is named Baroka, and is known as the "Lion." He is sixty-two years old and is able to deceive the village belle, Sidi. As the title indicates, Sidi is the "Jewel" of the village who gets tricked by Baroka and ends up sleeping with him. Sidi is a vain, flirtatious individual who is awed by Baroka's plan to use her image on Ilujinle's stamps. Baroka is the most revered man in the village and cunningly convinces his senior wife, Sadiku, that he is impotent. Baroka is aware of the fact that Sadiku will gossip and spread the information to the beautiful Sidi. Sidi believes Sadiku and enters Baroka's palace, unaware of his plan to woo her. The "Lion" successfully engages in sexual relations with the "Jewel," and she ends up marrying him.

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What is the meaning of the title of The Lion and the Jewel?

The title of the play The Lion and the Jewel refers to the characters of Baroka and Sidi. Like the king of the jungle, Baroka is a strong, wise, and cunning leader of the village. Although he is sixty-two years old, he can still come out victorious in wrestling matches with younger men, and he frequently marries additional wives. He uses his status and his strength to make Sidi commit to marrying him, even though the younger Lankunle also wants to marry her. His chase for Sidi is similar to that of a lion’s hunt for prey.

Sidi refers to herself as “the jewel of Ilujinle” because like a jewel, she is beautiful on the outside. She is a young, attractive, and vain woman who becomes famous after her photograph is published in a magazine. Baroka is after her hand in marriage because of her status and appearance. Recall what Sidi says about him after initially rejecting his marriage proposal:

Baroka merely seeks to raise his manhood above my beauty. He seeks new fame as the one man who has possessed the jewel of Ilujinle!

When Sidi explains that Baroka wants to “raise his manhood” above her beauty, she suggests that Baroka wants to become more well-known and respected by marrying the famous, beautiful Sidi. Baroka later appeals to Sidi's vanity to get what he wants by telling her that she will get her face on a stamp if she marries him. He also tricks her so that he ends up taking her virginity, and in the end, Sidi agrees to marry him. The title thus represents the dynamics of their relationship and why they were interested in one another.

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Who does the “jewel" refer to in the title of The Lion and the Jewel?

The jewel in The Lion and the Jewel refers to Sidi, a beautiful young woman in Nigeria's village of Ilujinle, who is well aware of her attractiveness. Sidi chooses to abide by the village's traditional beliefs and practices by insisting that her future husband will pay her bride price before she agrees to marry him. Two men of the village, Lakunle and Baroka, desire to marry Sidi. Lakunle is a young schoolteacher who views himself as modern, and he wants Sidi to be a modern bride. He often does not agree with the village's traditional beliefs and practices, and he insults Sidi on multiple occasions. Baroka, who is in his sixties, is the village chief. Baroka maintains the village's traditional beliefs and practices, as evident by his multiple wives. Sidi believes that Baroka is too old for her but finds him intriguing. Upon Sidi's resistance to marry Baroka, one of Baroka's wives reveals to Sidi that this has deeply saddened Baroka. Upon learning this, Sidi visits Baroka in order to ridicule him. During the visit, Baroka takes Sidi's virginity. Lakunle is upset when he learns that Sidi is no longer a virgin but is willing to marry her despite that fact. Sidi ultimately chooses to marry Baroka, the lion.

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Who does the “jewel" refer to in the title of The Lion and the Jewel?

The "jewel" in the play The Lion and the Jewel refers to the character Sidi. Sidi is a beautiful young woman who is coveted and pursued by both Lakunle and Baroka during the play. After a foreign photographer features her images in a popular magazine, Sidi gains fame and notoriety throughout her village of Ilujinle. When Sidi sees her images in the magazine, she becomes conceited. When Sadiku tells Sidi that Baroka wants her as his wife, Sidi rejects his offer and begins to ridicule the Bale. Sidi believes Baroka is simply jealous of her and wants to restore himself to his previously esteemed position. One page 21, Sidi says, "He seeks new fame as the one man who has possessed the jewel of Ilujinle!" Sidi refers to herself as the "jewel" because she is beautiful and precious. Baroka, who is referred to as the "lion" in the play, eventually deceives Sidi into believing that he is impotent and takes her virginity. Sidi, the "jewel," marries Baroka, the "lion," which is why the play is titled The Lion and the Jewel.

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