Death And The Kings Horseman: Giving Up The Battle Essay

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From the Western perspective, it is hard to understand ritual suicide as anything positive or helpful to the living. There almost seems to be no Western equivalent to the "duty" of Elesin in Death and the King's Horseman. However, Wole Soyinka gives us a comparable situation in Jane's description of a captain blowing up a ship to save the people on the shore. It's a moment of hypocrisy on Britain's part, both trying to prevent Elesin's suicide and lauding a Western suicide which purports to do the exact same thing - save the living from destruction. It's also clear that Olunde sees this ridiculous parallel, but he does not make Jane see the connection. Instead, he lets the matter drop, which, in the Western perspective is …show more content…
First of all, while Jane seems intelligent and ready to accept what he says more than any other Brit in the play, it is also true that Westerners like to discover the truth and "reality" themselves. Being led by Olunde might cause an immediate rejection of whatever he has to say because she has an ingrained belief in the inferiority of his early upbringing, and thus in any beliefs related to his culture. The truth will be much stronger and more immediately convincing for her if she discovers it herself. So, even if he spoke and pointed out smartly the connection, it wouldn't be as credible to her.

Other than the small amount of boasting pride he might feel, there is really no reason for him to tell her.Secondly, and perhaps the most obvious of reasons, her knowing the reality as starkly and consciously as he would put it wouldn't cause any good in the grand scheme of things. Yes, he would right, and would win the argument, as it were, but nothing will change. She holds no power in the British hierarchy, as we see later in the play. Furthermore, it would probably cause her great discomfort. We know that she is close to understanding the connection between her captain and Olunde's father, but if it were to be brought to the surface suddenly, she would have to deal with it directly. And this would involve recognizing her husband's ignorance and the harm of his action on the Yoruba.

So there is no

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