Student Question

Analyze The Marriage of Anansewa as a comedy.

Quick answer:

The Marriage of Anansewa can be seen as a comedy because the play features disorder, absurdity, a case of mistaken identity, and satire.

Expert Answers

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Efua Sutherland’s play The Marriage of Anansewa can be considered a comedy for a variety of reasons.

One primary reason has to do with comedy’s general reliance on disorder. Any situation will often be funny or humorous if it’s higgledy-piggledy. In Sutherland’s play, the chaos comes from Anansewa’s father, Ananse, and his zany plan to find her a husband. His zealous matchmaking leads to further disarray when all of the potential husbands choose the same wedding date.

To deal with the mess that he’s created, Ananse pretends that Anansewa is dead. This brings in another element of comedy: mistaken identity. While the suitors don’t think Anansewa is a different person, they do think she is a corpse instead of a living, breathing human being.

Anansewa’s fake death connects to yet another element of comedy: satire. It’s not unreasonable to argue that Sutherland is using this silly situation to make a serious statement on marriage and the way in which the institution of marriage has a history of stunting, confining, and all but extinguishing a woman’s individuality.

The satire continues when Ananse fixes Anansewa up with the Institute for Prospective Brides before her eventual marriage. The name of this "institute" could call attention to the absurdity of certain marriage norms and their brainwashing, indoctrinating aspects.

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