Lion’s Language

As with all writers, the language they employ contributes to their style. Soyinka uses a few interesting techniques int The Lion and the Jewel for particular effect including the use of proverb, diction to convey culture, and line structure.

Proverb

You’ll notice that Soyinka employs a great deal of proverb amongst his writing, often so much so that, whole conversations are conducted through this technique. In Act 3, during Sidi and Baroka’s discussion, Baroka employs proverb to win Sidi around.

Task: Investigate the proverb on the village smock (49). You will need to:

  1. Consider the events of Act 3. What occurs here? How does Baroka win Sidi? Was there trickery involved? How does Baroka raise doubt in Sidi?
  2. Analyse the smock proverb? What is suggested through this dialogue?
Equally, consider Lakunle’s use of proverb. He tends to quote from the bible which separates him from the others. One interesting statement is in the conclusion where he decides to marry Sidi even though she is no longer a virgin. He says, “The man takes the fallen woman by the hand” (61), a phrase that sounds biblical. However, there appears to be no accurate reference to this in the bible (or anywhere) despite Soyinka’s indication that it is a quote.

Task: Suggest a reason for this feature. 

Diction

Soyinka also employs peculiar diction to convey the culture of the village. There are numerous examples of this, one of which occurs when Baroka introduces the stamp to Sidi.

Task: How is the discussion of the stamp (50) indicative of village culture. What diction is used to convey this?

Line Structure

This is the big question, and despite quite a bit of research, I can find no other opinion that discusses this technique. Soyinka employs quite an interesting line structure that is reminiscent of Shakespearian language. In many passages, Soyinka appears to employ unrhymed verse.

Task: Select a significant passage and suggest a reason why Soyinka structures his writing in this fashion. 

Image: ‘Inside language

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