The Lion and the Jewel

The Lion and the Jewel Imagery

The performances

Soyinka spends a good deal of time describing the elaborate performances undertaken by Ilujinle. They are loud, vibrant, compelling affairs with music, song, and acting. These vivid images impart on the audience the value and color of Yoruba culture. They reveal the ways in which the Nigerian people create and emphasize meaning. And aesthetically, they make for very good stage drama.

The opening scene

The opening scene of the play features the lovely Sidi carrying water on her head, a task that seems very primitive in the mid-20th century. Then there is the schoolhouse where students recite arithmetic, a task that is indicative of Westernization and modernity. This juxtaposition helps to establish the play's central concern of the conflict between tradition and modernity.


The image of the Bale and his wrestler fighting while Sidi watches is intended to impress her—and the audience—with the Bale's strength, composure, and cleverness.

The magazine

Perhaps the most important image of the play, the image of Sidi in the magazine in all her "bush-girl" glory is supposed to be incredibly powerful and alluring. We can image her beautiful face and why it inspired the stranger and the Bale. It also captures a prominent aspect of modernity: the capturing of an image for perpetuity.