In this article, we will be bringing out the major themes in The Black Woman by Leopold Senghor
The theme is defined as the central idea presented in a given literary piece. The theme is the basic message that the author is trying to pass on to the audience. The theme of a literary work is expressed through the use of characters, setting, plot, etc.
Leopold Senghor explores two major themes in his poem ‘Black woman’. The two themes in ‘Black woman’ include
• The celebration of Black skin
• Theme of Negritude
THE CELEBRATION OF BLACK SKIN
Leopold Sedar Senghor, in his poem titled ‘Black woman’, associated Bn beauty with black skin, a black woman, and, in extension African Woman. The theme of celebration of black skin runs throughout the poem, right from the very title of the poem, “Black woman”.
Over the years, beauty has been attributed to being white or fair and having flowing hair, courtesy of the western view. However, Senghor, in his poem ‘Black woman’, debunks this idea, depicting the black woman as the epitome of true beauty.
The celebration of black skin illustrated in Senghor’s ‘Black woman isn’t just constrained to the idea of a beautiful black woman but in a broader sense to the black race- a continent of Africa. Black skin has been viewed as a sign of inferiority, primitivism, and barbarism, as in the expression ‘black monkey’.
Therefore, in a successful attempt to discord this claim, Senghor’s poem is an ode to African beauty, a praise song to the black skin- the skin that reflects the sun, gold, and the natural surroundings.
Expressions like ‘dark woman’ and ‘black woman’ are used to show emphasis on the beauty of black skin. Also, comparisons such as ‘ripe fruit’ and oil emphasize the beautiful features of the black woman.
THEME OF NEGRITUDE
Negritude refers to the literary movement that began in the late 1930s, the ’40s, and ’50s, which saw the coming together of African and Caribbean writers living in Paris. The movement aimed at combating the french colonial rule and the policy of assimilation. The movement is built around the rejection of European colonization and the appreciation of African cultural heritage, as well as the embracement of ‘blackness’, upholding pride as against the western-generated stereotypes.
Leopold Senghor is prominent for his involvement in creating national consciousness through his negritude works. His works like ‘Black woman’ have the theme of Negritude running throughout the poem. It could be said that the main theme of ‘Black woman’ is Negritude. This is because the poem is a praise of the beauty of Africa and the black skin.
The poet depicts African women as beautiful in contrast to western views. We see the poet upholding the pride of the black woman as she is described in comparison to the ‘sun’, ‘black wine’, ‘firm-fleshed ripe fruit’, ‘Gazelle limbed on paradise’, ‘gold’ etc. Africa is personified as a black woman, depicting true beauty as natural beauty.
The African woman is a symbolic representation of Africa itself, and throughout the poem, Senghor denotes the African woman to be everything beautiful and perfected. The poet also portrays the geographical aspects of Africa in expressions like ‘savannah stretching to clear horizons’, ‘Gazelle limbed in paradise’, mineral resources like ‘gold’ and indigenous instrument as suggested by ” Carved tom-tom, taut tom-tom…”.
The poem revolves around the core value of rejecting the Western view and upholding Afticanness, blackness, and an extension of a clamor for black consciousness(awareness).
We’ve looked at the themes of ‘Black woman’ by Senghor, now we will give answers to some frequently asked questions.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS WITH ANSWERS
• What are the themes of Negritude poetry?
Negritude poems have their tenets centered on the criticism of western civilization and the stereotyped view of European culture as superior and African culture as inferior. Negritude poetry sorts to exalt and appreciate African culture, expressing nostalgia for the unadulterated and raw cultural heritage of Africa.
• What are the concerns of the poem Balck woman?
The concern of Senghor’s black poem is the criticism against the European view of beauty and the exaltation of the African continent and black skin.
• What does the black woman represent in the poem?
The black woman is a symbolic representation of the continent of Africa.
• What are the poetic devices used in black women?
Before considering the devices, let’s first look at the meaning of poetic devices.
Poetic devices refer to literary devices such as figurative language, tone, structure, and style employed in a poem.
There are several poetic devices in Black Woman by Leopold Sedar Senghor, some of which are: metaphor, allusion, simile, repetition, alliteration, and symbolism.
Click on the link below to see full notes on figurative devices in Black Woman by Leopold Sedar Senghor.