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Comparative Analysis of the Trials of Brother Jero and a Play of Giants

Comparative Analysis of the Trials of Brother Jero and a Play of Giants



This research work undertook a critical analysis of the two works of professor Wole Soyinka. The texts understudied were “The Trials of Brother Jero” and “A play of Giants”.  These texts are quoted by other playwrights and analysis as among the best of his works (Soyinka). The essence of analyzing these texts was to critically evaluate the satiric themes in them as the author is known to be a good satirist who affects the society through his works by portraying the ills of the society, especially his own society (Nigeria) through satire in his works. This work in the onset gave insight to what authors and playwrights would define as being a satire. The work also x-rayed the different types of satire in modern literature tracing their origins to be Horatian, Juvenalian and menippean era. The research also dealt with related literatures especially those that had to do with satires in African literatures.

Analysis of  “The Trails of Brother Jero showed a satire on the fake religious practice’s predominant in the African society and the roguery, falsehood and hypocrisy that characterize the leaders of the religion. “A play of Giants is a satire of the tyranny of past African leaders. The most glaring heinous tyrant of them all is Idi Amin (former head of state of Uganda). Soyinka through the play satirically depict the tyranny and recklessness, as well as the craze for continuous hold on to power that is exhibited by majority of African leaders even in today’s society. The facts used for the research were from the primary source (the two text) and also works of other authors about satire and essays on Whole Soyinka, Journals  and periodicals also consulted. Methodologically, a sociological approach was used for the study. This approach views the salient happenings in the society with regards to man. This work aside, analyzing the texts, also analyzed the thematic pre-occupation of the plays in the satire perspective of the author.




1.1  Background to the Study

Through the act of writing, radical and rational African creative writers, for many years, since the 1950s have taken the chance to condemn the follies and the vices in their societies. In Nigeria, great writers have frown at and fought against corruption, bad rulership, dictatorial policies, women oppression, moral decadence and societal disturbances such as religious intolerant, with a view to making positive changes which might upgrade or accelerate human and material development  in the nation and the world at large. The primary objective of these committed African writers is the genuine struggle for cultural and socio-political revolution using literary activities as a platform. The different peoples of the world are made to understand the African world view through writing, both now and before independence.

It is by the act of writing that many scholars say and believe that literature mirrors the society. This implies that the historical, social, political, economical and religious aspects of man are viewed through literature.  These aspects of human are easily portrayed through literature by employing the three genres of literature: prose, poetry and drama (play).

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This research focuses on drama as one of the generic form of literature which is used in revealing the vices of religious leaders as seen in the text to be discusses in this study.

The term drama comes from the Greek word drama meaning action. Which is derived from the verb drao meaning “to do” or to “act”.  The Ancients Greek philosopher Aritstotle used this  term in a very influential  treatise called the poetics. In the text, Aristotle classified different forms of poetry according to basic features he thought could be commonly recognized in their composition. He used the term “drama”  to describe peotic composition that were acted in front of audiences in a theater. Since the 19th century, the word drama has been also been used  in a more narrow sense to designate a specific type of play. Drama is defined in this modern usage as a genre of narrative fiction (or sent- fictions) intended to be more serious than humorous  in tone which focuses on in depth development of realistic character who must deal with realistic emotional struggles.

The concern of this research is on the vices of religious leaders which have been satirized in a dramatic generic form (using Wole Soyinka’s work as a case study) in order to bring about change in societies that we love.

Considering the nature of satire, according to the Dictionary of literary terms (1977) is a literary work intended to arouse ridicule contempt follies of man and his society. It is also aimed at connecting malpractices by inspiriting both indignation and laughter with a mixture of criticism and wit. The concept of satire is invented from the act of mockery or ridiculing so as to correct the ills of the society. In addition , satire is any literary writing that uses devices such as irony. It is a text or performance that uses irony, derision or wit to expasesor attack human vice, carelessness or stupidity.

The relevance of satire is to ridicule the ills of an individual or institution with the aim of correcting and transforming the society. It helps to mould individual’s character and and it also exposes the point of weakness of a particular society. Social satire is prominent in Wole Soyinka’s  Trial of Brother of Jero and the Road, where he satirizes the vices pose by religious leader to the society (these vices are writed to Christian religion).

Vices are forms of evil, wicked and criminal actions or behaviours in the society. They are social problems and have been thought of as social situations that a large number of observers feel are inappropriate and need remedying. Vices are those acts and conditions that violate societal norms and values.

Using what was presumed as the universal criteria “normality sociologists commonly assumed that social “pathology” was the consequence of bad people. Social problems resulted from the actions maladjusted people who were abnormal because of education or incomplete socialization. These ‘social palliologist’ assumed that the basic norms of society are universally held. In this absolutist vices, social problems are behaviours or social arrangements that disturb the moral order (Eitzen, 1980:126).

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Nigerian society is a highly dynamic one. The dynamism gives rise to new issue of public interest. It also generate new problems and pose daunting challenges for which the society and it people cannot over looks. If there is any issue that is most pressing in the minds of people as far as religion is concerned today, it is that pertaining to the quality or standard of religion practiced in their society.

The standard and quality of religion ( especially Christianity) have been maned and targeted by the so called religious leaders (though not all). This decadence is what Soyinka satirizes in his dramatic works used in this study.

Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose, and the character which inspires confidence. In the religious realm, John R, Mott defines a leader as one who knows the road, who can keep ahead, and who pulls others after him (P346). P T. chandapilla, an Indian students’ leader, defines religious leadership as:

A vocation where there is a perfect blending of qualities that are both human and spiritual, or a harmonized working of God and man, given over to the ministry and blessing of other people (p  122).

From the political angle, president Truman’s definition was, ‘a leader s a person who has the ability to get others to do what they don’t want to do, and like it’ ( J. O. Sanders, and p.22).

Who a thorough scuttling into the definitions of leadership above, it is generally viewed and accepted that the life style of a leader can affect the society either positively or negatively depending on how he carries the people along. Through this observation, this research will take the chance to address the issue of vices f religious leaders as portrayed in wole Soyinka’s Trial of Brother Jero and the Joad to bring about effective change in our contemporary society.


Comparative Analysis of the Trials of Brother Jero and a Play of Giants

1.2     Statement of the Problem  

It has been observed that the society id facing series of ill which emanate from the decadent of morality. Morality is a principles concerning right and along or good and bad behavior, it is a system of moral principles followed by a particular group of people in a given society. Therefore, this study is to address the life style of religious leaders and how they affect the society.

Since literature is not just an act of entertainment and education, but also a means of ridiculing the society, this study is to examine the rate at which literature is a ‘watch man’ to the society as potrayed by Wole Soyinka.

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From the view point of Wole Soyinka’s play, this study is to investigate the vices of brother Jero and the reactions of those he shepherd.

Moreover, this study, also is to investigate the religious vices in the conflict of professor and the bishop in the road and how the floor members reacted.

1.3     purpose of the Study     

i         To find out the level at which the society is negatively affected by the practices of religious leaders.

ii        To examine the influence of religious leaders’ on the society.

iii      To showcase the relevance of satire as a means of correcting societal ills.

iv       To investigate the place of literature in human society.

To investigate the vices of Jero portrayed by Whole Soyinka in Trial of Brother Jero.

v        To examine the nature of vices and how they mar the society’s

1.4     Research Questions

i         What negative life style do religious leader pose to the people around themes

ii        How does Wole Soyinka satirizes religious leaders and their vices in Trial of Brother Jero and Road?

iii       To what extent do religious leaders influence the society?

iv       How does literature helps in the reformation of human society?

Comparative Analysis of the Trials of Brother Jero and a Play of Giants

1.5     Research Methodology

In this study, the fact in discourse will be looked upon through the sociological approaches which views of religious leaders in Wole Soyinka’s The Trail of Brother Jero and the Road. Also, textbooks, journals and internet shall be consulted for data collection. The tools used by Soyinka to satirize in his works used in this study will be examine.

This study is divided into five parts. The first part-chapter one deals with the introduction, it includes also, the statement of problem, purpose of study and other part of chapter one. Chapter two is the review of related literature. Chapter three will be on the analysis of Wole Soyinka’s Trial of Brother Jero and Road and other things that follow. Chapter four deals with the analysis of Trial Road. While chapter five is the conclusion and a belief summary of this study.


Comparative Analysis of the Trials of Brother Jero and a Play of Giants

1.6     Significance of the Study

This work is not mainly for the purpose of reading alone but for the purpose of solving the everyday emerging societal problems.

Also, this study is meant to add useful literacy contributing to the existing body of knowledge in this field and to serve as useful consultation in this field of study for further searcher.

1.7     Score and Limitation

The information in this research centres around the topic ‘vices of religious leader.’  The data is limited to the texts Trial of Brother Jero and Road  written by Wole Soyinka as a primary source of data. Also, information from textbooks, journals and internet will serve as the secondary source of data.

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