To what extent is language used as a source of power in ‘Death and the king’s horseman’ and ‘Siswe Bansi is Dead’? Both Siswe Bansi is Dead and Death and the King’s Horseman are two African plays that use language as a source of power. In this essay i will be exploring how expressively the language is used and also analyse the form and structure. Both plays use of language and style of writing have been used to present the persisting struggle for racial identity in African literature. Wole Soyinka is acutely aware of the power and tone of language which he uses as an immensely flexible tool.
Iyaloja not only uses titles, but she predominantly uses proverbs as a source of power as she teases and mocks Elesin for not performing his ritual suicide. “how boldly the lizard struts before the pigeon when it was eagle himself that he promised us he would confront.’ Iyaloja uses the language to insult Elesin by implying he is cowardly for going against his word. By referring to him as a lizard that will strut in front of an ‘pigeon’, which are birds usually classified as vermin, rather than doing the brave thing and strutting in front of the ‘eagle’. The eagle is found on the Nigerian coat of arms and symbolises strength and power. As a result, Iyaloja reference to this eagle ridicules Elesin making him powerless against her. Iyaloja also uses riddles as a way of delegating the yoruban’s a s her secret African code baffles pilkings. ‘it rides ahead of your laggard will.’ This quote was fully understood by Elesin but left pilkings puzzled. Pilkings expresses his feelings through such words as “what is she saying now? CHRIST!! Must your people forever speak in riddles?” the amount of punctuation used conveys pilkings frustration of not having control of what is said in his presence, this contrasts the deception presented in Siswe Bansi where Bradley was unaware of his loss of power and further loss of control when styles wrongly translates whereas pilkings loss of power...
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