The Road Themes (Wole Soyinka)

Wole Soyinka

Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

The Road combines the psychic themes of tragedy and myth with the grim reality of death, symbolized by the spider’s web. Murano prods the web several times to draw attention to the parallel between the spider and the road as sources of sudden death. Professor’s quest for the Word is rendered ambiguous by the incongruous juxtaposition of his constant rhetoric about revelations through the mystical Word and his collection of spare parts for the Aksident Store. This search for spare parts is the commercial aspect of Professor’s quest for the essence of death.

Wole Soyinka’s satire extends from Professor’s attempt to discover the Word by means of destruction to all manner of institutionalized corruption, such as the would-be millionaire policeman parodied by Samson and Salubi in the first play-within-a-play. Although Professor was expelled from the church because of drunkenness, his role as a seeker of the Word gives him a certain profundity. Always the proprietor of the Aksident Store, Professor nevertheless has a mystical side that makes him appear a man possessed. And yet he is baffled by the possession of others. There are five scenes in which relative boundaries dissolve through reenactment; the Professor is confused in one and merely witness to the rest, while Samson actively partakes in all. Soyinka could be satirizing the academic professional obsessed with relative as opposed to universal truth, with conventional as opposed to...

(The entire section is 442 words.)