Analysis Of The Play 'Death And The King's Horseman'

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After reading the play “Death and the King’s Horseman,” by Wole Soyinka, Elesin Oba, the protagonist and late king’s horseman identifies as a brave and somewhat loyal leader to the people of the village, until he fails to uphold his duty of sacrificing himself. Olunde, the son of the King’s horseman is a different kind of leader. Though he identifies with western culture as he has studied in England for years, Olunde has a deep admiration for the traditions of his native culture. Despite being determined to fulfil his duty and die for his people, Elesin proves to be a disgrace to the people, whereas Olunde shows his true colors as a dutiful leader.
In the opening scene, Elesin enters the market followed by a grand parade of drummers and praise
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After discovering that the king has passed, Olunde decides to return home, knowing that his father was expected to commit suicide. Because he is putting his western life on hold to fulfill his duty as a son regarding his father’s death, the reader gets the impression that Olunde is dutiful. Even though Olunde has a taste for western culture, he still takes pride in Yoruban tradition. This is evident when he speaks to Jane about Yoruban rituals and ceremonies. Jane assumes that Olunde must be shocked because his father is to die. Olunde responds by saying, “No I am not shocked Mrs. Pilkings. You forget that I have now spend four years among your people. I discovered that you have no respect for what you do not understand” (Soyinka, 41). Olunde exhibits his passion and loyalty for Yoruban culture by staying calm and accepting his father’s death as a duty that must be fulfilled, rather than getting upset and trying to stop him. This also exhibits Olunde’s dutiful persona and his reverence to Yoruban tradition. His true leadership abilities are revealed when Elesin’s ceremony is put on …show more content…
Olunde feels that his father disgraced the village and the Yoruban people so, in an attempt to salvage his father’s reputation and fulfill the Yoruban tradition, he kills himself instead. Because his father couldn’t complete his fate, Olunde feels that it is his responsibility to uphold the tradition, exemplifying his willingness to carry out his duty towards his people. Elesin shows his true colors as he lets the intervention stop him from completing the ceremony. The people do not consider this a valid reason for Elesin to be excused from the ritual and consider him a disgrace. When Elesin learns of his son’s suicide, he feels so much guilt and shame that he hangs himself in the prison. This is a major example of how Elesin and Olunde differ. Olunde was willing to return home and die to uphold a tradition of a society he was barely a part of, and Elesin, an actual leadership figure in the village, died a dishonorable death. Instead of killing himself as a duty to society, he killed himself out of shame, revealing that he is weak and unfit to be a

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