Symbols in A Dance of the Forests are technically hidden so artistically that one has to give it several readings in order to identify them.
These symbols were actually present in front of the reader’s eyes, but again, the way they were concealed requires an in-depth reading to understand.
Symbols in A Dance of the Forests
Here are some of the symbols found in this globally acclaimed drama b y nobel prize winner Wole Soyinka.
There are a number of textual evidences which speaks of itself that half – child is the Nigerian nation. The nation which has not yet attained the status of appearing as One. Though, they are an independent country, but they are still not a nation.
At one point, Aroni says that:
“Aroni, relieve this woman of her burden and
let the tongue of the unborn, stilled for generations, be loosened.”
This dialogue explains that Aroni is pointing out towards unborn child carried by the dead woman. She meant to have this nation be born and speak for its real objective. The ideal Nigerian nation must say it all that it could not say for all those generations.
At another point, the Half- child says:
“HALF-CHILD : I who yet await a mother.
Feel this dread, Feel this dread,
I who flee from womb To branded
womb, cry it now I’ll be born dead I’ll be born dead.”
Whereas, the half- child (the unborn nation) cries with uncertainty that he was waiting to be born by womb of his motherland. He is feeling frightened that he will be born with no life in it. He was destined to be born to a normal womb, but he now he will born to someone who has a label of country upon it, but they are not worthy of being a nation.
With the symbol of Half- Child, Soyinka has highlighted the corruption, which was going on in the Nigerian nation. He openly criticized his people for their corruption and for unable to appear as a nation.
The symbol of Dead Woman is present since the beginning of play. This symbol reflects the Independence of Nigeria. The sentiments of Freedom or Independence seems like if they are unhappy to come to this country.
“DEAD WOMAN : I know they told me to come. I know I was summoned. What is it to them from whom I descended if that is why they shun me now? The world is big but the dead are bigger. We’ve been dying since the beginning; the living try but the gap always widens. What is it to them from whom I descended !”
The freedom talks about the way Nigerian people have treated her. She is failed in making them realize the importance of independence.
It was the current situation of Nigerians that made her say:
“DEAD WOMAN: A hundred generations has made no difference. I was a fool to come.”
She saw that this nation is not acting the way it was supposed to, she was highly disappointed over them. She called herself a fool that she was granted to such nation, which has learned nothing of its past. The country folks also seem to misuse their freedom, which has come to them after several tough times.
The symbol of Ants portray the Soldiers who have given their life in building this country. They are seen talking about their sacrifices and not counted by anyone in the process.
“ANT : “I thought, staying this low, They would ignore me. I am the one That tried to be forgotten.
ANOTHER : I am the victim of the careless stride.
ANOTHER: I know the path was thin, a trickle In the marsh.
Yet we mowed the roots Our bellies to the ground.”
Here, the ants or soldiers are talking about how they face difficulties during war and the way, they face all of the hardships.
ANT LEADER : We are the ones remembered When nations build …
ANOTHER : •.. with tombstones.
There is no doubt that behind every nation, there are the Unsung Heroes who sacrifice their lives. They are in hundreds and thousands just like some ants. Whenever someone talks about history of any country, they never forget to mention these soldiers who are on the front, dying like anything.
These heroes never complain about the places they are sent to. Whether it is snow hit mountains or in the hot deserts. They are always there to renounce their lives without a second thought.
“ANOTHER : Down the axis of the world, from The whirlwind to the frozen drifts,
We are the ever legion of the world, Smitten, for-‘the good to come’.”
The ants or soldiers are talking the same scenario here.
These are some of the symbols in A Dance of the Forest, which Wole Soyinka has demonstrated to explain about his countrymen.
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