Tragedy and Culture in Nigerian Drama: A Study of J.P Clark’s Song of a Goat and Ola Rotimi’s The Gods Are Not To Blame

Author: Ugonabo Cecilia Ngozi
Department: English Language and Literature
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

Tragedy as a word is synonymous with seriousness, disaster, misfortune, catastrophe and doom. There may be tragedy in every human existence. As a literary genre, tragedy has generated a lot of controversies in literary criticism. The universal concept of tragedy is didactic since it is designed to show man’s inadequacies, predicaments and limitations in life. This study explores the vision of tragedy within Nigerian culture and uses J.P Clark’s Song of a Goat and Rotimi’s The Gods Are Not To Blame as case studies. The study finds that the playwrights manifest cultural differentiations in their vision of tragedy. While the Western playwrights often portray tragedy of man as linked to fate and destiny, the African playwrights hinge their tragic themes on human action as they pertain to procreation, kingship, death and continuance of race as essential variables. The study finds that the vision of tragedy is conditioned by a people’s culture or worldview. The study recommends that the contemporary Nigerian tragic playwrights should move beyond the reflection of Western vision of tragedy as based on fate and destiny but to focus on the elements that structure the adversities facing the nation since the best way to glimpse into the soul of the people is through their vision of life and how they react to it.

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