September 21, 2004

Response to "Death and the King's Horseman"

After gaining some background on this play by reading the first two scenes and Professer K.'s helpful information, the first thing that struck me about the opening was the sense of ending or closing, and how it parallels and foreshadows Elesin's impending death. This was sharply contrasted by the entrance of Elesin, who is ...a man of enormous vitality, speaks, dances, and sings with that infectious enjoyment of life which accompanies all his actions. This contrast suggests some of the Yoruba culture and their view of death. In Western cultures, death is the end to everything, something to be feared and avoided. In the Yoruba culture, however, Elesin's death is noble and honorable, wrapped up in ceremony and not a bad thing at all.

Another way that I believe the closing of the marketplace may be symbolic is that it stands for their culture. From what I've gathered so far, the play is about the Yorubian culture being invaded by whites, and them being prevented from practicing sacred ceremonies and traditions; therefore, I saw the closing of the marketplace as a parallel to the figurative 'closing' of the Yorubian culture.

Last year, in my CIS Intro to Lit class, we often discussed Western influence on many different cultures, and how these influences caused traditions to change and transition into something more modern. I also read it in the Author's note: he used the key word of transition. That made me think of the liminal stage, in at least two different scenarios. There is the liminal stage of Elesin's death, with his transition from the world of the living to the world of the dead; there is also the liminal stage of a culture that is changing, that is being affected by the outside influence of these westerners with completely different ideas and a desire to change the 'savages' into something 'human'.

And I apologize profusely for this digression from the actual topic. Without having read the whole play, there isn't a whole lot I can really talk about.

Posted by holm0567 at September 21, 2004 8:04 PM