Sunday, March 30, 2008

Joan Hepburn's analysis of "King's Horseman"

I chose to read Joan Hepburn's analysis of "Death and the King's Horseman", titled "Ritual Closure in Death and the King's Horseman."  What I found to be the most intriguing point raised in the essay was the notion of community in the play.  I hadn't really thought about how incredibly important the welfare of the community is to the characters in the play until I read this analysis.

In the play, the welfare of the community is supposed to trump the welfare of the individual.  As Hepburn herself states, " Soyinka's drama the individual will is subordinate to that of the collective.  It is the community one seeks, at all costs, to save, not one person" (180).  The collective community expects Elesin to sacrifice any selfish/individual desires and give up his life for the good of the community. 

Hepburn also gives the example of Iyaloja giving up the bride of her son to Elesin to highlight the importance of community welfare: "Yet Ivaloja consents to this marriage, which robs her son of his bride, for she hopes by her decision to better enable Elesin to perform his ritual task of benefit to the Yoruba community" (185).  The tragedy of the play emerges from the fact that Elesin doesn't commit the ritual suicide.  It is debatable who's fault this is, but it is undeniable that the tragedy originates from this point when the welfare of the community is disregarded.  

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