In this post, we will be discussing the figurative devices in The Lion and The Jewel by Wole Soyinka which include simile, metaphor, personification, symbolism, etc. Before we delve into those devices, let us first understand what a figurative device is [also known as the figure of speech]

A figure of speech is the usage of words in a figurative or non-literal sense in order to give the impression of freshness, emphasis, clarity, or in some cases, to create ambiguity of literal and nonliteral meaning.

Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel is not devoid of the use of figures of speech. This creative input is highlighted by a variety of figurative phrases that are used to enhance and convey the meaning that is desired. Some of the symbols of speech used throughout The Lion and the Jewel include antonomasia, simile, personification, periphrasis invective, metaphor, hyperbole, aphorisms, pleonasms, allusions, asteismus rhetorical questions, and alliteration.

Figurative Devices in The Lion And The Jewel by Wole Soyinka


” The Lion and the Jewel
The play’s title is certainly a metaphor. It’s an obvious use of the word antonomasia. Antonomasia is a term used to describe a figure of speech where an epithet, also known as the title of an office or dignity is substituted for the proper name. In this instance, “the Lion” is employed for Baroka more as the title of office, as well as “the Jewel” for Sidi because of her beautiful beauty. In the texts, Baroka is revered with “the Lion” title while Sidi is acknowledged or recognized her status as the village’s “jewel” on several occasions.


one-eyed box
It is a nebulous phrase that refers to the camera. The inhabitants of Ilujinle are literate to the point that they would not have realized that it was a camera. The form of speech employed here is periphrasis or circumlocution.

” devil’s own horse
A roundabout word for a motorbike.


Personification is a different form of speech that is used within the text. Examples found in the text are:

“That is the way the stewpot was saying to the fire. …”
“… The sun was your lover.”
“murderous roads”

I thought that the world was insane. Pg 28

My armpit continues to leak blood. page 39

My beard informs me that you’ve been a student… page 47

Sidi My love will help you open your eyes. page 6

Do the stones have the capacity to be listened to? Pg 6

The village is in holiday mode You fool. Pg 14

My images have taught me the other. page 21

Our thoughts float effortlessly across the sky. Pg 53

It’s only the hair on his back that deceives the world. Pg 54

The words do not form. page 55

Earth expands and swallows Lakunle. Pg 60



Simile is also a predominant figurative expression in The Lion and the Jewel. The similes used in the play include:

“… You are as obstinate as a nonliterate goat.”
“… appear squashed, like the drawings of my pupils?”
“Sidi, my love will open your mind like the chaste leaf in the morning when the first sun touches it”
“chirrup like a cockatoo”
“smoother by far than the parrot’s breast”
“. . . The water sparkles on my face as if dew-moistened leaves of a Harmattan morning”
“his face is like a leather piece torn rudely from the saddle of his horse”
“Be sharp and sweet like the swift sting of a vicious wasp”
“Like a snake, he came at me, like a rag he went back, a limp rag, smeared with shame”
“ran like a fire through the tail of a lion . . .”
“must every word spill out of you as clearly as the last drops of milk from your mother . . .”
“sulking like a slighted cockroach”
“a print of groundnuts stacked like pyramids”
“words are like beetles”
“whipped like a dog”
“she took off suddenly like a hunted buck”
“round-bellied as a full moon in a low sky”

Every word you speak out of you as quickly as the last drops of milk from your mother pg 35.

Sulking like a cockroach with a light. Pg 39.

Then you have to chirp like a cockatoo. Page 7

Her hair is also extended like a magazine image. Pg 9

The thought itself could make you fall as fast as wine. Pg 13

I’ll look at you as whipped as the dog on page 55

She walked off abruptly like a buck that had been hunted. Pg 61


Simile Lakunle’s love for Sidi

Lakunle speaks to Sidi, “my love will open your mind / Like the chaste lead in the morning, when / The sun first touches it” (6). This is a good illustration of his verbose fake-poetic style of rhetoric. He believes that words with flowers will make a statement to Sidi however, Sidi is just frustrated and says that he’s tired of her. In his reference to love as a “chaste” flower, Lakunle also indicates what he thinks of Sidi.

Simile Baroka’s face

Sidi laughs at Baroka, “But he–his face is like a leather piece / Torn rudely from the saddle of his horse” (22). She compares herself to him as a radiant, beautiful, and shining creature whose popularity is starting to grow. The words she says about Baroka are funny since he winds with her winning.



Examples of metaphors in the play are:

“waters of my soul”
“feet of ignorance”
“The Fox of the Undergrowth”
“that panther of the trees”
“Sadiku of the honey tongue”
“I am the twinkle of a jewel”
“he is the hindquarters of a lion!”
“was I not flame itself and he the flax on old women’s spindles?”
“seven-horned devil of strength”
“Sadiku of the duiker feet”
“his frog-face croaked and croaked”
“snake-tongue lightning”

Sadiku my loyal Lizard. Pg 47

Sidi isn’t going to make an inexpensive bowl to serve the village’s spit. Pg 7

Romance is the sweetness of the soul. Pg 10

I’d consider you my property, my only property. Pg 8

The diamond of Ilujinle. Page 21

I am the jewel’s twinkle while I am the hindquarters of a leopard. Pg 23

Therefore, parasites are a sign that you’ve made a huge mistake. Pg 62

Baroka is one of the creatures found in the wilds in pg. 58

Metaphor Lakunle’s heart

Lakunle sings in the direction of Sidi, “my heart / Bursts into flowers with my love. / But you, you and the death of this village / Trample it with the feet of ignorance” (6). The metaphor he uses is blossoming flowers due to the strength of love then shows that flower being destroyed by the ignorant village. This is a shrewd metaphor that reveals Lakunle’s tendency to be hyperbolic. He portrays his heart as fragile and delicate, which actually does not appear to be the case. When he believes he’s going to be married to Sidi the alleged lover of his dreams, he believes it’s too terrifying and too soon. Then suddenly, he forgets about her immediately and begins to chase after a village girl.

Metaphor: Knowledge

Baroka says to Sidi, “I see you dip your hand / Into the pockets of the school teacher / And retrieve it bulging with knowledge” (50). The metaphor portrays Sidi as a young child who reaches into the pocket of an older person in the hope of finding information and knowledge, which in turn diminishes her standing. It also portrays the school teacher as somewhat casual and haphazard with regard to his knowledge. What is the reason for this information being stuffed randomly in his pocket? In this scenario, Baroka subtly discredits the two main characters Sidi as well as Lakunle.

Metaphor: Wine

Baroka informs Sidi, “old wine thrives best / Within a new bottle” (54). The metaphor operates at two different levels. It is the top-level concept in which Sidi will learn the old and traditional methods of doing things that will be more enticing and delicious if they are contained and processed within the context of modernity and development. The more debauched interpretation that Baroka entertains himself with is that he’ll put his semen, or old wine, into her new body and create the image of a child. Old men like youngsters, he says.



“What is a gem for the pigs? … the race the savages …”
“Him? Do not pay any more attention to it than you would a “eunuch.”
“What! The dog that is greedy! The insatiable camel of a naive racing, adoring race”
“Sadiku, my faithful lizard”
“The cunning frog”



“What I say is famous in Lagos which is a city of magical … which is where Saro women take baths with the gold …”
“my heart bursts into flowers with my love”
“I will fight against heaven, earth, as well as the hells of nine . . .”
“Beauty beyond the dreams of a goddess”
“Loveliness beyond the jewels of a throne”
“To see him fizzle with the drabbest puff of a mis-primed ‘sakabula'”
“I could twist and untwist my waist with the smoothness of a water snake”


“If the snail finds splinters in his shell, he changes house.”
“A prophet has honor except in his home.”
“If the tortoise cannot tumble, it does not mean he can stand.”
“Until the fingernails have scraped the dust, no one can tell which insect released his bowels.”
“Old wine thrives best within a new bottle”
“The monkey sweats, it is only the hair upon his back which deceives the world”


“A barbaric and savage tradition obsolete, savage, rejected and rebuked, condemned and excommunicated. It is archaic, humiliating, degrading, inconceivable unnecessary. Retrogressive, remarkable, unpalatable.”


“And the man shall take the woman and the two shall be together as one flesh.”
“My Ruth, my Rachel, Esther, Bathsheba . . .”


Asteismus can be described as a mocking or a humorous response that is a play on words.

Lakunle Says: It’s a happy start to the day to you, sir.
Baroka: Guru morin guru morin, ngh-hn! That is
The only thing we hear from him is “alakowe’. He is the one you call
I’m hoping he’ll send beer All you receive is
Guru Morin. Do you think Guru morin causes me to sneeze?

Rhetorical Question

“Is a man’s bedroom to be made naked to any flea that chances to wander through?”
“. . . It would seem . . . To be found in the public, throwing fistfuls of pepper and corn into my mouth?”
“Is it not wise to indulge in the little masquerade of a dignified snuff-box?”

Have any of my wives complained that I am not manly enough?



“rhyming rabble”


Apart from the frequent reference to Lakunle’s Bible by Lakunle and his character, the fact that he is an actor appears to be an allude to Bambuiu the mysterious village school teacher from Ene Henshaw’s earlier novel, This is our Chance A play, which was written in 1945. Published in 1956.

Lakunle is an iconic Bambulu character who shines in his blazing English regardless of whether the person listening to him understands. That’s why Sidi calls him a “book-nourished shrimp.” When she insists that her bride price must be paid so she can have respect among fellow villagers, he bursts out in a running-tap drawl of grammar: “A savage custom, barbaric, outdated, /Rejected, denounced, accursed,/ /Excommunicated, archaic, degrading,/ /Humiliating, unspeakable, redundant,” etc.

Some of the time, in his raucous English, Lakunle refers to the Bible with a pulpit declamatory phrase “And the man shall take the woman/And the two shall be together/As one flesh” (Page.8) at the peak of his flirtation with Sidi He cries “My Ruth, my Rachel, Esther, Bathsheba/Thou sum of the fabled perfections from Genesis through Revelations’ (p. 20).

Lakunle is lavishing praises on Sidi in terms of homage she might not have comprehended. Even the inclusion of “Bathsheba as one of the virtuous women within the Bible is a bit odd and bizarre since Bathsheba isn’t part of this group of women. It appears that he has been able to recall the name of David’s concubine and then included it because it is his belief that Sidi will not discover the unusuality. Lakunle’s idealistic view of Sidi’s fate at the hands of Baroka is “this trial is my own.” …. It’s my cross. ..’ (p. 60) in which he depicts himself as Jesus who is coping with his own sorrow.



Irony refers to the use of phrases or situations that have the aim of being satirical or funny in mind, and to produce a result that is completely opposite of what was intended or anticipated. It could also mean saying something and then being able to mean another or saying two words and meaning nothing. Ironies are often found in comical plays, and that’s the reason that irony is the foundation of the play.

The entire story is based on one major irony in which there are small ironies. It’s an irony that occurs that an old man of Baroka’s age nabs the young woman (Sidi) from a young guy (Lakunle). It’s also ironic when a girl (Sidi) visits an elderly male (Baroka) who is believed to be a sham with the intent to ridicule the man, only to return to be a petty man and rejects the young man who ought to have had a better education.

In the event that Sidi does not want to marry Lakunle because she (Lakunle) is unwilling to pay for the wedding and she is forced to move her possessions to the home of Baroka and does not demand that her bride fee be transferred to her. It is probable that Sadiku’s disclosure of the secret Baroka revealed to Sidi is intended to deter her from defending her (Sidi’s) disdain for the old man, without realizing that it will create in her younger female the desire to learn more.

This is based on the fact that younger women who entered Baroka’s female quarters were likely to annoy the woman (Sadiku) because the old man’s attention was centered on his younger wives. Another irony in the story is Lakunle believing that since Sidi was soiled by Baroka she will now be the aqking and not realizing that Sidi was given an energy boost that she never had previously: “Marry who.. ? You thought… Why did you think that after him,/l could endure the touch Of another man?” (p. 53)

Sidi goes on to thank her Lion: “That was not bad. For a man of sixty,/lt the ofGod’s own draught” (p. 53), Sidi mistakes her appearance as proof of strength and power. She also considers the Lion as a man with strength, as she is her equal or even superior. But beauty isn’t the same as strength. Instead, it makes a “jewel” more attractive for the purpose of putting a snare in her path. Watch Sidi’s use of two metaphors, one next to one of the “l am that glimmer of a jewel”/But it is the hindquarters of a Lion”. (p 23 )

While she is saying that, she doesn’t appear to realize that a lion lives as an animal of power until it is dead. Pay attention to Sidi’s shout of “YOU WON. The winner won!”(p. 44) When Baroka throws her wrestler away. this is ironic because Baroka doesn’t appear to realize it. the moment that Barok’a might throw her over and get her the hand to marry her.

Although Lakunle and Baroka differ in their respective ways, the former tells Sidi that they’re not adversaries. Baroka says to Sidi that “I do notice/Your teacher and I are quite alike” his, “the haste of youth… The teacher at school/I have to learn of them” (p 54, p.) It’s an irony since, while it appeared like Baroka and Lakunle were adversaries The old man affirms that they are both needed (Lakunle) as part of his notion of progress because “old wine prospers best in a brand new bottle. The roughness/ls is mellowed and the rough wine acquires an elongated and full shape …” (p. 54).).



If the snail discovers fragments of his shell, the snail will change his home. What is the reason you stay? Pg 6

Shame is only for those who are ignorant. Pg 5

The woman is lost in the woods one day, and every wood god dies one day and the next day. Page 42

If the tortoise is unable to tumble, it doesn’t mean the tortoise is not standing. Page 42

If the child is overwhelmed by questions Mother has only one water-pot that is less. Page 42

The first place to start is at the home. pg 52 (proverb)

Man must be able to live or die by his core values pg 661

until the fingernails have scratched at the dust, no one knows the insect that has released his blows. Page 43

Old wine can thrive in a new bottle.


The Lion is King (the Bale -Baroka)

Jewel – Beautiful Girl (the Belle – Sidi)

Honey tongue (Sadiku of the honey tongue, pg 20)

Sadiku’s unopened treasure house”Virginity. Pg32

Okiki arrived with a key that was rushed to one of the old sexual organs for males., Pg32

Motorbikes are the Devil’s horse.

One-eyed camera – box.

Baroka’s photo near the latrine of the village He is filthy and corrupt.


Inside out. Page 5

Upside down. Page 5


In the world, everyone knows who the madman in Ilujinle is. Pg 3

Really, you want to turn the entire world around. Pg 5


A barbaric custom that is savage, inhumane old-fashioned, unpopular, and rebuked Excommunicated, insane archaic, degrading embarrassing, ineffective extraordinary, and retrogressive in its insanity. Pg 7

Sidi I don’t seek an heir to carry to scrub and cockle and bring up children… Page 7 and 8.


B-r.r.r.r. (sound of a motorbike) page 10

Haha (sound of laughing) page 20

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