Death and the King’s Horseman Summary | GradeSaverThe action of Death and the King's Horseman begins a month after the king 's death. Per Yoruba religious tradition, Elesin , the titular horseman a title that signifies that he's in service to the king and shares many of the same rights and perks, but without the same responsibilities , must commit ritual suicide so that he can accompany the king to the afterlife. Things become complicated, however, when the Englishman Simon Pilkings , the local district officer, discovers that Elesin intends to commit suicide while the prince of England is visiting. Through Pilkings's attempts to stop Elesin from committing suicide, the play begins to explore the function and the cultural significance of death, both for the Yoruba people and for the English. Ultimately, the play makes it very clear that death is something different for every culture—and that interrupting one culture's way of thinking about the relationship between life and death can have disastrous consequences. For Elesin, the past month has been a time of transition.
Summary World: Famous Plays 9: "Death and the King's Horseman" by Wole Soyinka
Death and the King's Horseman: A Play
Based on events that took place in in the ancient Yoruban city of Oyo, Soyinka's acclaimed and powerful play addresses classic issues of cultural conflict, tragic decision-making, and the psychological mindsets of individuals and groups. The text of the play is accompanied by an introduction and explanatory annotations for the many allusions to traditional Nigerian myth and culture [from Amazon]. See more about this book on Archive. Copy and paste this code into your Wikipedia page. Need help?
Death and the King's Horseman
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The play opens with Elesin and his praise-singer entering the marketplace. Elesin is an expansive, gregarious, and zesty man, and he and the praise-singer banter back and forth. The women, including the mother of the marketplace, Iyaloja , arrive and watch and listen. Elesin boasts of how he is not afraid of death and is prepared for his fate. When the women call him a man of honor, Elesin takes on an air of mock-anger.