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 About the Author

Before doing the literary analysis of Dance of the Forests, it is vital to know about its marvelous author, Wole Soyinka. 

Soyinka was born in Abeokuta, which is in the Western Nigeria in July 13th, 1934. He was an activist for Nigerian independence and was in jail because of it for a very long time. He is an essayist, dramatist, novelist and poet. Wole Soyinka was a part of several theatre groups such as Royal Court Theatre, Rockfellar bursary, the 1960 masks, etc.

This exceptionally talented literary figure has taught in Oxford, Yale, Harvard and other prominent universities across the world. His notable works are The Man Died: Prison Notes, Kongi’s Harvest, A Dance of the Forest, etc.

Wole Syinka won Nobel Prize in the field of Literature in 1986. 

Literary Analysis of Dance of the Forests 

Dance of the Forests is one of the most innovative drama in the literary world. Soyinka has amazingly crafted his words, where one has to seek for the meanings. Being an independence activist, Soyinka has this pain of ideological Nigeria and the existing Nigeria. He and his peers gave away their youth and lives for the country, which has to be corruption free, but things turned out to be opposite. Their dream was to have a land where everyone will cherish and respect the hard-earned freedom, Instead, his countrymen actually misused that power.   

Dance of the Forests was presented on the occasion of independence day of Nigeria. On the occasion when everyone was expecting something motivational rather they were confronted with the criticism. 

Some of the aspects which describe the true meanings in the text of Dance of the Forests are as follows:

Expectation vs Reality 

At many points within the drama, there is a feeling touches that the characters are self explaining their flaws and disappointment. For instance, when Old man says that:

OLD MAN: “Well, believe me when I tell you that everything has misfired. These people who have come to claim our hospitality do not wish us well. We were sent the wrong people. We asked for statesmen and we were sent executioners.“

Here, it seems pretty obvious that Old man is aware of the fact that the people sent from the Gods are not the right ones. They were expecting to Welcome their statemen and warriors. These people from the past are the ones who exposes the real Nigerian past and present plus asks for the justice as well. 

Adenebi, the Council orator also states that he was expecting all the ‘great forebears’. These great people were all the philosophers, conquerors, etc. It was a plan to gather around the big totem and get benefit from prestigious presence of ancestors. 

Adenebi: Oh. Well, In addition I said; … no, you said, and I took it up, that we must bring home the descendants of our great forebears….

…. Warriors. Sages. Conquerors. Builders. Philosophers. Mystics. Let us assemble them round the totem of the nation and we will drink from their resurrected glory..

The Old man, who is a council elder understands that the guests sent by Gods are actually sent to look into our deeds. The present Nigerians expected that they will welcome queens and kings. In real, the people were facing consequences of their actions.  

Existential Freewill 

According to Sartre, “existence precedes essence”. It says that the way we live and act, give meaning to our lives. 

This is the same way through which a number of characters in Dance of the Forests have lived their lives. They are free to make choices and this factor is affecting their future. 

The character of Rola is aware of what she is doing in her life. She is a prostitute who chooses to be that way and is very much clear about it. Rola is not harming anyone rather men comes to her as per their own free will. She does not care what other think of her or what do they say.

ROLA: “Draw your filthy conclusions. I only know I am master of my fate.”

The Warrior in the Court of Mata Kharibu is also very stubborn. He refuses to be dictated by Madame Tortoise and did not trade himself for the sake of his life. The refusal of  fighting a war that is for someone’s personal gain results in the execution of Warrior, but he did not change his stance. 

WARRIOR: “I have the right to choose how I mean to die.”

The literary analysis of Dance of the Forests can be explained in several manners since this drama is a piece of finest written work. ` 

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