Wole Soyinka: Death and the King's Horseman

(1767 words)
  • Christine Podollan

Wole Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman (1975) contains elements of a Greek tragedy. However, Soyinka has adeptly created a unique work of drama. Written in five acts, and performed without interruption, the play contains dialogue interspersed with choral songs (in free verse, to be accompanied by drums). The chorus reiterates what has been said previously, offers historical background, and provides foreshadowing. This hybrid drama ā€“ Greek choral tragedy, Yoruba efe and idan sketches, English drawing-room comedy and Vaudevillian slapstick ā€“ is a singular contribution to twentieth century theatre.

In keeping with Greek tragedy, Elesin, the play's tragic hero, becomes increasingly aware of his flaw: too great an iā€¦

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Podollan, Christine. "Death and the King's Horseman". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 March 2004
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=5727, accessed 04 July 2015.]