"Death and the King's Horsemen" - Drama Assignment Essay

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Name: Zeba Noshin LCSA – World Literature 1000 Instructor: Jana Fedtke 5th October, 2013 Drama Assignment “Sacrifice” and “Suicide” in Death and the King’s Horseman In Death and the King’s Horseman, Elesin, the protagonist and the king’s horseman, ending his life is meant to be a ritual sacrifice. It is not initially a suicide as I believe the victim of a suicide has to be suffering from depression or shock in order to want to commit a suicide, which the sacrifice becomes by the end of the drama. The concept of sacrifice, through Elesin’s words, is represented as an honorable act. On the other hand, it represents a duty through the society’s perspective. When Elesin talks about his sacrifice, it sounds like it is a golden opportunity and he is the one chosen to be given the chance to perform the honorable act of sacrificing his life. This is shown in Elesin’s lines, “When the hour comes watch me dance along the narrowing path glazed by the soles of my great precursors. My soul is eager. I shall not turn aside.” (10). It is admirable to be the one to do this as it is the path Elesin’s ancestors took and their footsteps leave the pathway shining. He too wants to “glaze” the path and leave his mark on that route. The idea of being a man of honor to his people is what excites Elesin to perform this sacrifice. This leads on to the idea of the act of death in this story not being a suicide for the king’s horseman’s soul is “eager” to die and accompany his king. Elesin is not upset about having to die but is keen and therefore I believe it is not a suicide. On the other hand, the society’s perspective renders the act of sacrifice as a duty. Olunde, son of Elesin, mentions that if his father fails to sacrifice himself it would be “a calamity [for us], the entire people” (47). If Elesin’s failure would lead to misfortune, then this sacrifice is a duty – a duty to

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