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This research endeavour focuses on the social and political ills prevalent in the African societies with the view of correcting them thus, making the contemporary society a better place to live. Using two texts from renowned Nigeria writer, we see the economic, social and political evils which morally degrade our society and the community at last. These evils are being satirized to bring about transformation. Here, the sociological approach is employed. The quota sampling system is use in this research work, brings out the religious hypocrisy, moral decadence, marital imbalance and corruption palpable a savage, portrait of group of dictatorial African leader at (bay in an embassy) in our text of study. This study brings out the evil inherent in African socio-political system and calls for a change especially in a society.


Title Page                                                                                          i

Certification                                                                                                ii

Dedication                                                                                         iii

Acknowledgements                                                                            iv

Abstract                                                                                             vi

Table of Contents                                                                              vii


1.0     Introduction                                                                            1

1.1     Aims/Purpose of Study                                                           12

1.2     Justification                                                                                      13

1.3     Significance of the Study                                                                  14

1.4     Scope and Limitation                                                              15

1.5     Methodology                                                                           16

1.6     Sociological Theory                                                                 18



2.0     The Nature of Satire                                                                21

2.1     Types of Satire                                                                        30


3.0     Critical Analysis of “The Trials of Brother Jero”                    38

3.1     Satiric Vision in The Trials of Brother Jero                                      47

3.2     The Thematic Pre-Occupation of the Play                               67


4.0     Critical Analysis of “A Play of a Giants”                                71

4.1     Main Theme: Dictatorship                                                      77

4.2     Setting                                                                                     78

4.3     Characters                                                                               78

4.4     Characterization                                                                      79

4.5     Use of Literary Devices                                                           79


Conclusion                                                                                        80

References                                                                                         82



It is generally conceived by many scholars, that literature mirrors the society. However, literature goes beyond just mirroring the society to depict various aspects of human life.

The social, political, economical, religions and historical aspects of human lives are portrayed through literature. Basically, there are three major genres of literature, poetry prose and drama.

For the sake of this study, we shall concentrate on the dramatic generic form of literature and the social mediation.

Drama represents life in a more distinctive way. It educates, entertains, orientates and satirizes. Drama originates from the Greek worship of gods in the classical period as a form of ritual.

This research concentrates on the concept of satire used by African playwrights (using Wole Soyinka as case studies) to effect societal transformation.

Satire according to the Dictionary of Literary Terms (1977) is a literary work intended to arouse ridicule, contempt and follies of man and his institutions. It is also aimed at correcting malpractice by inspiring both indignation and laughter with a mixture of criticism and wit. The concept of satire is invented from the act of mockery or ridiculous, to correct the ills of the society.

Satire is any piece of writing that uses devices such as irony. A text or performance that uses irony, derision or wit to expose or attack human vice, foolishness or stupidity.

To buttress this, George Ostler in Oxford Dictionary, Opines that Satire is a composition which vice or folly is tended up to ridicule.

Sarcasm or irony is used to expose absurdity. The essence of satire therefore is to ridicule the ills of an individual or institution with the aim of correcting and transforming the society. Satire helps to mould individuals character and it also exposes the point of weakness of particular society. Social and political satire is prominent in this particular Wole Soyinka’s work see in Wole Soyinka. Trial of Brother Jeroand A play of Giant selected Dramatext above. He treated social satire obtainable in the contemporary Nigeria society.

According to Shorter Oxford Dictionary. Satire is a thing, fact or circumstance that has the effect of making some person or thing ridiculous. It is employed to mock or cause the actions of man or his beliefs. According to the Collins Dictionary of English Language is a novel play, entertainment etc in which typical issues, follies, or evils are held up to scorn by means of ridicule and irony.

Jessie Coulson, describes Satire as:

“Satire is a composition in which folly or vice is held up to ridicule, use of ridicule, sarcasm or irony to expose folly”.


Satire is a literary technique which principally ridicules its subject which includes individuals, organization or states often as an intended means of provoking or preventing changes. Satire can be said to be both a specific literary genre, and a literary manner. As a literary genre, it is said to have reference to a poetic form which was originated in the 2nd century B.C Persuis, Juveral and Quritilian. This is to say that Satire was initially often Quintilian that it required a general application to other forms of literary expression and verbal expression.

Alexander Pope also affirms with the duty that Satire performs to a man which is used to check the excesses of man to inform man and denounce his follies or vices. He believes strongly in the effects of satire. He says:

“Know nothing that moves strongly satire and those who are shamed of nothing else are so of being ridiculous”.


As a literary manner, Satire is concerned with ridiculing human and institutional follies with the intention of correcting them.

Satire may be presented in the mode of allegory and also mode imitation through pictures and caricatures, it is indicious treatment of subjects in a dramatic fashion, also in the mode of Lampoon which is explained as the act in which an individual is represented in a virulent way, this makes it a subject of a laughter. In the mode of irony which is explained as a situation whereby the intended meaning is the opposite of that expressed by the word used.

In the mode of irony which is explained as a situation whereby the word used. In the mode of Allegy which is the presentation of a subject to represent meaning

In the mode of Allegy which is the presentation of a subject to represent another one where they both share similar features. The most effective mode of Satire is sarcasm which is defined as a sharp, biting or cutting expression of remark. It can also be in the form of a bitter glibe or taunt. The satire here tends to be direct and hard on the subject of discourse. On the other hand, it may be through the mode of humour which is explained to be the presentation. Finally, satire can be presented through force, a situation whereby metaphorical language or expressions are used to mock.

The whole question of the responsibility of the artist to the society is perhaps as old as the responsibility of the artist to the posed as the relationship between the artist and the public or as the functions of the artist or the relationship between art and the society the function remains unchanged. It is therefore in the attempt at unveiling the great role of Artists in the society that we come across the concept of satire. Satire can be described as a means or mechanism by which a novelist, artist or dramatist aims at exposing the ills and vices in the society such as corruption, injustice, lust for materialism, moral and spiritual bankrupt and exploitation of all forms, political and socio-economic

Fallacij Roget Fowler Subiruts that satire is a

Genre defined primarily but not

Exclusively in terms of its inner

Form in it the author attacks

Some subjects using it as his menns,

Wit or humour that is either

Fantastic or absurd

Therefore, Satire is employed to mock or censor the actions of man or his belief, it is also used to assess the state of man in his society and to create a difference between the present  situation and the ideal situation. Satiractries to expose the abuse of a system and the actors involved. The best satire is concerned with the nature of reality and unlike other arts which emphasizes what appears to be real but is not. It always pretends to be something other than what is really is.

We read satire because it gives pleasure. Some scholars have course to disagreed on the kind of pleasure.

It give us.Some critics suggest that the pleasure is a moral one. Just as one would agree with the former opinion, it is important to say that satire does not give us the type of pleasure fable stories gives us, on the other hand from satirical writing we derive ethical satisfaction because through Satire, we are able to imbibe a code of conduct which we apply to our daily lives.

It is a fundamental and basic fact that satire entails more than exposing societal ills and vices. Satire is a literary response to life in the city, its basic cynicism and especially its political nature seen to require an urban culture to spawn and thrives.

There are other less sophisticated kinds of verbal and literary vitrid; flyting and invective. What might be best described as creative name calling, occur almost universally but satire proper derives from a periodic association between literature and the hypocricy of civil behaviour. While the term itself has its etymological roots in the Latin Satura meaning a full or mixed dish in the sense of a cacophonous variety, the Greeks had rich satiric tradition especially evident in the Athenian old comedy which played scatologically with the pretentious behaviour of particular contemporary citizens recognizable to the Audience. Aristophanes Lampoons on Socrates and Euripides are prominent examples. The great Roman poet Horace and Juveral set the literary standards for European satire, their best work being much imitated models even well into the 20th century. They also lend their names to the two essential types of satire which are the Horatian who is the gentler kind, which exposes human folly to correct it and thus strengthens the social fabric and Juvenalian is harsh, even abusive and sees little chance of social progress. Horace and Juvenal use language that is colloquial and contemporary people and current issues.

These remain the distinguishing elements of Satire which is colloquial and contemporary, immediate and recognizably real in style and subject.

In a peculiar way satire’s generic qualities and social motives are very close to those of the essay. The satirist, like the essaylist is intensely aware of his or her subjectivity and attempts to engage the readers on a personal and even conversational level. In both genres, the dominant impression is one of immediacy of a face to face exchange in which opinion and interpretation take procedure over fact and objectivity. The attitude is casual, however changed with message.

Satire is a genre of literature. According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (1993), Satire can be inform of a poem, prose or composition. In which prevailing vices or follies are held up to ridicule.

A thing, fact or circumstance that has the effect of making some person or thing ridiculous. Satire is employed, to mock or censure the action of man or institution in the society.

Also, the Encyclopedia American (1829) defines satire as both a specific literary genre and literary manner. As a genre it has reference to poetic form originated in the 2nd century by Roman Satirist Lacillius. It was practiced with distinction by his successor Horace, Persius and Juvenal.

As a literary manner, the follies, vices and crimes of a person or an institution are held up to ridiculous or scorn with the intention of correcting them.

From the above definitions, we can say that satire is every expression that makes fun of an institution or an individual by drawing the attention of the people to their vices with the aim of making amendments. Satire is a major tool in bringing about societal transformation.

Satire originates from ‘Satura’ a Latin word which means ‘medley’ or ‘mixtured’ – satirical usages have being part of the folk culture since the early communities. It featured in the Greek Culture as it was specifically located within a Grecian fertility rite. The first satirist was Acholochus. He was said to have been so savage that his target one Lycambas and his daughter hanged themselves.

Furthermore, the remain rhetorician Quintillians established Satire as a ‘Roman Phenomenon’. He claims “Satire is our own in his words “Satura totanoshraest-Qum”. By these, he was referring to lucillus poetic practice who was a contemporary of his works had a considerable influence on Horace one of the keg figures in the development of satire persius was influenced by Horace.

To Horace satire is urbane, the satirist smiles at the foibles of his fellow men without indignation. Juvenal satire is harsh. The satirist is an enraged moralist. Who denounces the vices and corruption of his fellowmen. Satire here is bitter and commading.

The pre-independent African society had satire in its arts- A typical example is the poetry of the Yorubas called “Ewi”-The Elewi, satirist ridicule people and institutions. Element of satire can be seen in their proverbs, riddles and jokes. After independence. However, Satire assumed a different phrase in the Contemporary African society. It became very popular as it is being used to attack theme of neo-colonialism, corruption, hypocrisy, ignorance and administration and other vices. Narrowing it down to Nigeria, we have a lot of artist who are satirist in their writings. Such writers are Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe. In his A man of the people Ken Sarowiwa Prisoners of Jebs, Olu Obafemi in the, The New Dawn Ola Rotimi etc.

According to IRF Gordan (1976) Horace’s approach to Satire is the one that tells the truth better with laughter while Juvenal states that their anger make him to write satire.

In the 17th century satire marked the highest point in English literature through the works of Dryden, Alaxander Pope, Jonathan Swift etc. They attack materialism, hypocrisy, pride, cruelty and political experience in the works.

From the Horatian or Juvenalism concept of satire as a sting that is deep and sharp and thus, it produces result; transformation. In the 19th century we talk about other satirist as Jane Austen, Thomas Peacock, Samuel Butter, Bettoit Brecht etc.


The purpose of this research endeavour is to portray the socio-political ills of the Contemporary Nigeria Society as represented in the works of Wole Soyinka. The interest of this playwrights is the use of Satire as a potent weapon to mock political problems, leadership, mediocrity vice-versa religious hypocrisy, moral decadence, exploitation andegostic tendencies of the people trusted with the mandate of the masses. The concern of this research study is to enumerate the relevance of satire for the correction of socio-political ills of the contemporary Nigeria Society. This focus make this study quote relevant and useful for academic purposes and further related studies. The study will also aim at addressing the imbalances in the society and how this writers view this differences. This study is being embarked upon in order to bring out the salient idea behind these writers use of satire as it affects the life of Nigerian citizens.


This study is important as it brings to limelight issues that are integral to our society which many people are not aware of. More so, this study intends to re-emphasis and expose the use of satire by African playwright to lash political leaders and religious leader and highly esteemed people in the society. The work of Wole Soyinka are appraised as a corrective instrument for socio-political problems of Nigeria contemporary society.

Through the use of satire the authors Wole Soyinka has been able to expose the ills and vices in the Nigeria socio-political system since independence. Attention will be drawn not only to the weaknesses in the society but also to the attitude which must be change, if the society is to develop and their importance and relevance to the contemporary times.

This study will also focus on the awareness of the people to the policies of the government, the tyranny and evil that pervaded his rule and the uptum of justice and misrepresentation of the truth. A particular character seen as being totally power drunk and this trait is seen as been totally power drunk and this peculiarities and idiosyncrasies. However, powers the bottom line. The way, the shade and color of the power are now the issue. The work is also embarked up on to establish the fact that political and economic violence is a phenomenon satired by literary master piece.


The purpose of this research work is to add flavour to the already existing scholarly established opinion that satire as a literary form has gone along way not only to attack the assumed unattackable ills and vices in human life which are mostly blinded by emotional instinct, but also as like no other literary application brought reformation to all these ills and vices in terms of political, social and economic ways. Another vital significance is the correctly position that in as much as man’s existence  as a social being in intermittently unending the existence of satire would not only continue to complete with the age of man but would remain firmly abated. The essay is also meant to add useful literacy  contribution to the existing body of knowledge in this field and to serve as useful literary contribution to the existing body of knowledge in this field and to contribution and to serve as useful consultation in this field for future researchers.


The scope of this work is firstly assessing some of the available materials on satire (literature review) to the sourcing of Data as in studying satire and analyzing the texts by Wole Soyinka ‘The Trials of Brother Jero’ and A PLAY OF GIANTS”.

This research work will be limited to the justification and analysis of satire. It will be clear from our objective that even though the research deals with satire generally, we shall limit our study to the use of satire in the selected texts to expose the social and political malaise in Nigeria religion and political leadership.

The limitation has been dictated by the need to attempt a thorough research within the available time.


The facts to be used will be collected from the novel based on the concept of satire in the novel. Here, the sociological approaches will be used. The sociological approach views the salient happenings in the contemporary society with regards to man.

It puts on record socio-cultural elements that cannot be researched in present usage. The Quota system of sampling is employed. The social problems of the society is not just religious hypocrisy which is prominent in Wole Soyinka’s The Trial of Brother Jero but also moral decadence, where martial imbalance is also embedded in the text to signify the total domestic disorder of the Nigeria system. Also,  A PLAY OF GIANT is a political problem abuse of power, complexities of power, intrigues of power, craze andhurt for power in African leadership, doctorial African leaderat the bayin an embassy in New York. A satire in the misrule of “miracden men” Textbooks, journals, and periodicals shall be consulted from which information will be collected. Also the tools which Wole Soyinka employs to satirize in “The Trials of Brother Jero and A Play of the Giants’ shall be examined.

This essay will be divided into four parts. Chapter one presents different definitions of satire by different scholars, important satiric strategies and the importance of satire to  the individual and the society as a whole shall be examined. Chapter two deals with the review of related literatures. It will examine what different scholars and critics have said on the novel under study and the use of satire as a deliberate tool by the authors will be examined. Chapter three examines critically Wole Soyinka “The Trials of Brother Jero.

Chapter four also examines critically Wole Soyinka a Play of Giants showing distinctly the aspects of dictorial African leaders in the world at large, especially in the society being satirized the characters. Chapter five which will be the conclusion of this study is’ a brief summary and evaluation of what the study is all about. For the purpose of analysis of the data collected for the study, the research entails the use of textual analysis as parameters for drawing conclusion on the research findings. In this study, the sociological approach to literature discourse is used. This approach studies the work of art as determined by social forces.

One of the foremost theoreticians is George Lukas. He argue that the work of art reflects social forces and it has dialectal impact on society. The work of art educates the society too, a part from entertaining the audience. This theory see the central character as representing his society.


Theories depend on what the scholars under each school of thought feel literature should be and be used for. Various critics and scholars decide to evaluate or approach or criticize literature from their various perspective. These variant perspective are often referred to as approaches of literature.

Hence the words, theories are approaches are synonymously used. A pre-knowledge of the theory adopted for the critical analysis of our text will be highly essential to our understanding. As earlier mentioned in our methodology.

We have adopted the sociological criticism under which the liberal humanist sociological critical form is used as a variant.

This brand best suite our study as it:

“Owes its rise to the rather relunctant realization on the part of some critics that the literature which forms the object of their enquiry is made peculiar by the fact that it is concerned with problem in African society at various points in its development”.


Irele’s position on criticism, especially his defence of the liberal humanist sociology of literary production is remarkably espoused in African experience in literature and ideology the emphasizes that the long cultivated collective social force, its shape and movement in time are some of the determinants of the direction of the artist’s mind and sensibility. Eagleton’s analysis of liberal humanism particularly reveals of the fundamental weakness and based it on.

“Liberal humanism has dwindled to the impotent conscience of bourgeious society gentle, sensitive and ineffectual… The importance of liberal humanism is a symptom of its essential contradictory relationship to modern capitalism. For although it forms part of the official ideology of such society, and the “humanitics” exist to reproduce it, the social order within it exists has in one sense very little time for it at all”

Irele draws attention to the potential of a literary sociology which approaches art criticism from the study of the responsiveness of the artist to his social background.

With all these characteristic of liberal humanist criticism, we can deduce that it best suite our study and it can be applied in the analysis of two of Wole Soyinka texts The Trials of Brother Jero and A Play of Giants as the African writers makes his focus in African experiences in literature and ideology. It is seen from the fact that both problem facing African society at various points in Its development. Their focus even though they are diasporian writer is on African society and the social problem that are in the African society.




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