I kind of want to respond to Roger in depth about Jones’ essay, but I have to read an entire book by Carter. However, there are some things I want to say. Jones’ piece is not great, but there a lot of points in the essay that helped me determine what, exactly, was going on in the play and how the play could be read.
Jones’ essay “Death and the King’s Horsemen” was not a masterpiece by any sort, but it did help clear out a lot of actions in the play that I did not understand. If there is any literary theory that would somehow connect to this piece, I think it could be somewhat (vaguely) along the lines of a psychoanalytic interpretation in a colonialist setting. Jones speaks a lot about the human condition that seems to be present in the play. Jones’ says, “By the end of the first section of the play, the Elesin’s involvement with things of this world and his evident irritation at being reminded of his coming death have sown doubts about the firmness of his will” (152). Personally, the first eighteen pages were a tough read for me. However, after reading Jones’ piece, there is noticeable situations throughout the Elesin’s dialogue in the first act where he will begins to wan. Jones then points to all of the items that the Elesin asks for before his death. The man is supposed to die very soon. Why would he ask for so much pleasures of the flesh? This all seems to become clearer.
I also wanted to read the play against Soyinka’s wishes as a post colonial piece of literature. When I originally read the play, it seemed to me that the majority of the problems were caused by Pilkings’ arrest of the Elesin. However, Jones writes, “Pilkings’s intervention does not start the weakening of the Elesin’s will and is ignored by Iyaloja as a major factor in the Elesin’s failure” (153). This takes us back to the Elesin’s personal failure of the self sacrifice. When staring death in the face, “the human will is apt to flinch” (152). This is what the Elesin does. The problems begin because of him, not because of Pilkings. Iyaloja does not even consider Pilkings as any kind of a threat, seen by her constant reference to Pilkings is “child”. This shows that Pilkings is not made to understand and that Iyaloja, as the mother of the market, would rather take her attacks towards the Elesin who understands the trouble he has caused.