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The Trials of Brother Jero - Book Report/Review Example

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Akinwande Oluwole "Wole" Soyinka (born 1934), the Nigerian writer, poet and playwright who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, has been highly recognized for his ability to incorporate satirical elements in his works. Soyinka's The Trials of Brother Jero (1963), which is the first of his three "Jero" plays, is a perfect example for his satirical abilities, and this play presents one day in the action-packed life of con-man, and beach preacher, Brother Jeroboam…
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Download file "The Trials of Brother Jero" to see previous pages... Brother Jeroboam, the protagonist of the play, is a beach prophet who is presented as making his way by prophesying the futures of other working class people in the surrounding area. Another major character of the play, Chume, is a messenger has been presented as a person who seeks relief from his shrewish wife (Amope) and predicts progress in his career.
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According to G. D. Killam and Alicia L. Kerfoot, The Trials of Brother Jero satirizes religious charlatanism and it illustrates the playwright's ability to offer convincing satirical sketches through various characters. In this play, Soyinka "satirizes the popular preaches of Nigeria through the character of Brother Jero. The play centres on Jero's interactions with his assistant Chume, and it both exposes Jero as a hypocritic fraud and admits that he is a good businessman." (Killam and Kerfoot, 299) Therefore, a reflective exploration of the play The Trials of Brother Jero by the celebrated Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka confirms that it is an important satire that presents one day in the eventful life of Brother Jeroboam, and it is a significant example of Soyinka's satirical skills.
Although the play The Trials of Brother Jero by Wole Soyinka is widely recognized as a successful comedy, relatively little attention has been given to this short comedy and it is usually dismissed as a rather conventional farce, saved fairly by the effective interplay of pidgin and conventional speech, but ruined by a weak ending. However, a profound analysis of the major themes of the play suggests that it is most memorable for its satirical sketches and the playwright effectively blends social satire with political satire. "The social satire parallels the political satire and is of some interest, though it is not nearly so integral to the comedy. Part of the problem here is that it is not so evident to the one unfamiliar with the rather rampant sectarianism in Nigeria In using a trickster figure as the central character in the play, Soyinka introduced a mechanism for controlling the temperature of the satire. Throughout, the satire stays at a mild level, never getting so hot that we are unable to laugh at the folly that we ourselves have become involved in. Yet, it is, after all, this folly that has resulted in Chume's being led to an insane asylum, and despite our intimate association with Jero, we see too much of ourselves in Chume to rest comfortably in our laughter." (Gibbs, 85) Therefore, it is essential to realize that the playwright employs various effective techniques to bring out his satirical skills in the play and the various characters in the play have played a vital role in the suggestion of Soyinka's satirical aims in the play. Thus, the playwright keeps the satire very mild and light all through the play and makes use of humour and comedy to do the trick. Chume's experience at the end of the play is an effective illustration of how the playwright employs satire in the play. "It is a pity about Chume. But he has given me a fright, and no prophet likes to be frightened. With the influence of that nincompoop I should succeed in getting him certified with ease. A year in the lunatic asylum would do him good anyway." (Soyinka, 171)
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