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THE TRIALS OF BROTHER JERO PDF

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Welcome to the English Conversation Class sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ We teach Beginning English Conversat. Get this from a library! The trials of brother Jero. [Wole Soyinka]. The Trials of Brother Jero is a five- scene play* It shows Soyinka's genius in light hearted satirical comedy. The brief first scene of the play functions as a kind of.

Jero pretends to take no notice of the curse, although in fact it worries him. He has no respect for his former tutor, referring to him as a foolish "old dodderer. She lies on the ground moaning as Chume and the congregation pray for her. Tough Mamma The Tough Mamma is an angry woman who chases after the Boy Drummer, accusing him of using the drum to abuse her father.

She is Jero's neighbor. Offstage, she gets the drums from the boy, leaving him to follow her onstage pleading for his drums back. The woman is aggressive. When Jero tries to intervene in the dispute, she scratches his face and he ends up with his clothes torn as well. This incident takes place offstage, and the woman's role throughout is a non-speaking one. She is on her way to the market to sell fish. She and Amope exchange angry words. Amope appears to believe that the woman is trading in stolen property.

Young Girl The Young Girl frequents the beach near the spot where Jero preaches, and he observes her. When she goes to swim, he thinks she looks dirty, but when she returns she looks much more attractive. Jero observes the same transformation in the girl every day and tries to resist his lustful thoughts about her. Jero appears to have no genuine faith at all. Even though he prays for and with his congregation, he does not believe a word of what he tells others.

Everything he says is to secure his own position and keep his followers in a subordinate place. He intuits that what people want is not spiritual knowledge but material advancement, and this is what he promises God will deliver for them. A hypocrite is a person who preaches one thing but does another, and this is a perfect description of Jero. No doubt he speaks to his congregation about the need for honest and upright living, but he buys a cloak from Amope and it appears he has no intention of paying for it.

He is little more than a crook, always alert for new ways of impressing his gullible followers and keeping them within the fold, as can be seen by his musings about acquiring some grand title for himself that would make his congregation even more malleable in his hands.

Jero knows that he is a dreadful example of a preacher or prophet, which is the term he uses. Near the beginning of the play he quotes a proverb: "There are eggs and there are eggs. Same thing with prophets. Jero well knows that he is a fake, but he feels no twinge of conscience about it.

Although his followers are not actually shown giving him money, they probably do, since Jero refers to them as "customers": "I always get that feeling every morning that I am a shopkeeper waiting for customers. He is a fraud, but a clever one, and the audience is amused by his antics and his plots. Research the origin of stock types in the drama of ancient Greece and Rome and the sixteenth century Italian Commedia dell'Arte.

What were the principle stock characters? How does Soyinka make these stock types into believable human beings? Make a class presentation in which you explain your findings. Pick one of Jero's speeches, possibly his opening speech in scene 3; rehearse it; and deliver it in front of the class.

There is no need to learn it by heart. Remember that Jero may be a rascal but he is an amusing one and audiences tend to like him. Try to bring out the humor in his words and attitudes. Imagine that Old Prophet returns to the beach and observes Jero's interaction with the Member of Parliament.

Write a speech for Old Prophet in which he addresses the audience the other characters do not hear him.

In writing Old Prophet's speech, review his speeches from scene 1 and study his character. What do you think he would say after observing the chicanery of his former pupil? One theme of the play is that society is too materialistic.

Is this a criticism that could be made of American society? In what sense? Can a person have material ambitions and still lead a life of faith? What are spiritual values? How might they contribute to a person's sense of well being? Write an essay in which you discuss these questions in terms of contemporary American society. Misogyny The play presents some misogyny, or negative attitudes toward women, on the part of the male characters, and the women themselves are portrayed as either aggressive or as chronic complainers.

Jero sets the tone. He worries about his weakness for women and sees them as temptresses who will lead him into trouble. He refers to them, following Old Prophet, as Daughters of Discord; he disparages Amope as a "daughter of Eve" Eve fell prey to the temptations of the serpent and then tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden ; and he mentions the Biblical characters Delilah and Jezebel: "How little women have changed since Eve, since Delilah, since Jezebel.

Her name has since come to symbolize a wicked woman. As for Chume's attitude toward women, he wants nothing more than to beat his wife. Amope is presented as a shrew, a woman who always thinks of herself as a martyr whether she has something to complain about or not, and she certainly makes Chume feel miserable with her taunts. The angry woman who pursues the Boy Drummer and attacks Jero is another example of a negative portrayal of women.

It is as if all the women are presented through the eyes of the men who fear them. Materialism It is not only Jero who lacks spiritual values.

No one else in the play has such values either. The people in the congregation want more material goods and greater success in the world rather than any spiritual salvation. The play therefore satirizes the materialism of the culture. This is amusingly presented in the incident in which Chume briefly takes over the service in Jero's absence.

In his prayer he asks for God to give them all "money to have a happy home. Those who dey sweep street today, give them their own big office tomorrow.

If we dey walk a today, give us our own bicycle tomorrow….

Those who have bicycle today, they will ride their own car tomorrow. Satire pokes clever fun at the failings of humanity; a satiric comedy, according to M.

Abrams in A Glossary of Literary Terms, "ridicules political policies or philosophical doctrines, or else attacks the disorders of society by making ridiculous the violators of its standards of morals or manners. This does not lessen the satirical point the dramatist wishes to convey. Farce is a form of comedy in which stock characters are put in exaggerated situations with the intention of eliciting laughter.

The humor is often coarse and physical. In this play, there are farcical elements in scene 3, when the angry woman chases the Boy Drummer across the stage, and the two of them keep reappearing while the bewildered Chume takes over the religious service and the Penitent starts writhing around on the ground.

Other farcical moments happen when Chume grabs Amope and tries to put her on the bicycle scene 4 , and when Chume chases Jero across the stage, brandishing a cutlass scene 5. Pidgin English When Chume gets emotionally excited or involved, his speech lapses into what is called pidgin English. Pidgin English is a combination of English with a local language.

The Trials of Brother Jero

In Nigeria, the languages combined with English are mainly Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo, and several million people speak different forms of pidgin English. A good example comes in scene 5, when Chume finally realizes that Jero is a hypocrite and even thinks that the preacher is having an affair with Amope: O God, my life done spoil. My life done spoil finish. O God a no' get eyes for my head.

Na lie. Na big lie. Na pretence 'e de pretend that wicked woman! She no' go collect nutin! She no' mean to sleep for outside house.

The Prophet na 'in lover. Jero has a contemptuous attitude to Chume's pidgin English, which he calls "animal jabber" and sees as a sign of Chume's inferiority. During the decade, tensions develop between Muslim and Christian groups. Today: In a trend that is shared in Africa as a whole, the two major religions, Islam and Christianity, continue to grow in Nigeria. Muslims account for 50 percent of the population, Christians constitute 40 percent, and adherents of indigenous religions account for 10 percent.

Christians are concentrated in southeastern Nigeria; Muslims dominate in the north.

However, the new nation does not achieve political stability and, in , there is a military coup, followed in by a civil war. Today: Nigeria has a civilian government and is enjoying the longest period of civilian rule since independence. Ethnic and religious tensions remain. Today: Nigeria continues to produce writers working in English who are making an impact on world literature. It can be said to have begun with the publication of Amos Tutuola 's The Palm-Wine Drinkard in , which was a telling of Yoruba folktales in an unorthodox English style.

Like Soyinka, Tutuola came from the Yoruba area in western Nigeria. His second book, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, was published in Chinua Achebe 's novel, Things Fall Apart , achieved international recognition. In drama, the work of the physician and playwright James Ene Henshaw marked a significant beginning.

Henshaw's plays dealt with important issues in Nigerian social and political life in the s and s. His first play, This Is Our Chance , was highly popular, and he wrote many more successful plays, including Jewels of the Shrine , Children of the Goddess , Magic in the Blood , Medicine for Love , and Dinner for Promotion In the s, Soyinka emerged as the dominant figure in Nigerian drama, but other playwrights also made significant contributions to the emerging literary culture.

Baptists established missions there. These early Christian churches ignored African traditions and used European forms of worship and practice; therefore, Africans did not fully embrace these churches as their own.

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In the second decade of the twentieth century, as a result of African dissatisfaction with the European-centered mission churches, a Pentecostal movement spread through western portions of Nigeria, incorporating more indigenous African beliefs and practices. These spiritualist, Pentecostal churches flourished in western Nigeria during the s, and they are the main targets of Soyinka's satire in The Trials of Brother Jero. These churches are known in Nigeria as Aladura, a Yoruba word that means "praying people.

Aladura churches are sometimes known as "white garment" churches because of the way their preachers dress. The "white flowing gown" that Jero wears clearly identifies him as an Aladura preacher. The second of these, the Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim, is actually named in the first scene of the play as one of the many churches jostling for space on the beach.

Founded in Lagos, Nigeria, in as a prayer group within the Anglican church, the sect became an independent church in and soon made a name for itself by crusading against witches. It also underwent many schisms, and by the s there were ten different divisions of the church. In his review of this production, the drama critic for the London Times comments that Soyinka "appears as an extremely sophisticated craftsman working within a rich folk tradition.

In this essay, he examines the archetypal characters in The Trials of Brother Jero and also discusses Soyinka's development of the title character in his later play, Jero's Metamorphosis. In order to accomplish his satirical goals in The Trials of Brother Jero, Soyinka drew on a long tradition in literature and later in film of the lovable rogue, the character who repeatedly cheats and schemes to his own advantage but does so with wit, verve, and often such great charm that the reader or audience cannot help but find him amusing and may even admire him, even if they cannot admire what he actually does.

Shakespeare's character Autolycus, the peddler in The Winter's Tale, comes from the same tradition. Soyinka was therefore not working in a vacuum when he created one of his most popular characters to make his satirical points: the hypocrisy of the preachers who plied their trade on the Bar Beach in Lagos and the superficiality of the culture that produced their followers, who identified their life goals solely in terms of the accumulation of material rewards and social position.

They get the preacher their shallow minds deserve. It has been praised by reviewers as one of the finest memoirs of childhood ever written. The play is a satire on religious hypocrisy, centering around the confidence trickster, Tartuffe.

West African Trickster Tales , adapted by Martin Bennett, is a collection of thirteen trickster tales, retold in a modern, Western setting. The collection will be of interest to readers of The Trials of Brother Jero since a number of commentators have noted similarities between Jero and the tricksters of these tales, such as Ananse the Spider and the Tortoise.

Elmer Gantry , a novel by Sinclair Lewis , is an entertaining satire on Protestant fundamentalist religion in the American Midwest.

Elmer Gantry is a successful but corrupt and hypocritical preacher who denounces vice in others but shows little inclination to reform his own immoral behavior. The novel caused a sensation when first published and was banned in several cities. It still makes for lively reading in the early twenty-first century.

Brother Jero stands high in the pantheon of lovable rogues. He manipulates his followers shamelessly and appears not to have an ounce of integrity.

He would no doubt regard integrity as an impediment to good business. He is a very suave operator who has his act down completely: his imposing appearance with his heavy beard, the sleek white gown with the white velvet cape that he still has not paid for, the divine rod that further marks out his authority as a man of God, and his lofty way of speaking, complete with all the usual flourishes of the silver-tongued preacher.

His words beguile his congregation. Brother Jero is a master manipulator and he clearly knows it; he is much smarter, and, when he has to be, more ruthless, than not only the other preachers he outwitted in order to secure his beach territory, but also his simple followers, such as Chume, who have no idea that they are being played for fools.

Poor Chume is the archetypal dupe who cannot get the better of the charlatan even when he finally realizes the truth about him. Chume is an easy victim of the man who took the measure of him a long time ago and who well knows his own superior cunning. The hold the preacher has over his assistant, and the meaninglessness of the charade he calls a religious service is shown clearly in scene 3, when Jero gets Chume to pray with him against his one weakness, which is for women. Jero calls on the names of various figures in Christian tradition, including Abraham, David, Samuel, Elijah, and even Adam.

Indeed, Abraka is close in sound to the cry of the stage magician, "Abracadabra" sometimes spelled Abrakadabra as he is about to perform some piece of entertaining trickery in front of an audience, which is close to what Jero is doing here—putting on a show of piety for the benefit of his witless disciple, who is so caught up in the emotionalism of the situation that he has no rational power to question the appropriateness of the incantation.

If Jero is the lovable rogue and Chume his perpetual dupe, the other main character, Amope, is the archetypal shrew. Like the lovable rogue, the stock character of the shrew has a long history in literature. Shakespeare's Katharina in The Taming of the Shrew is perhaps the most famous. The shrew is easy to spot; she is the character who is perpetually nagging her husband, showering him with verbal abuse.

Sometimes the husband meekly knuckles under; sometimes he rebels and finally shows the troublesome lady who is the boss. Chume would dearly love to take the latter course, but the truth of the matter is that, in what is no doubt a long and unhappy relationship, Amope is the stronger personality and dominates her hapless husband whatever he might do to challenge her.

Long skilled at playing the martyr, she accuses him of abusing her if he offers her even the mildest of rebukes. Nothing he does makes any difference to this situation, which is why he entertains fantasies of giving her a beating.

When Jero gives him the go-ahead to teach her a lesson, he starts to assert himself like he never has before: "Shut your big mouth! After she protests and he puts her down, he raises a clenched fist, telling her once more to keep silent.

Amope appears to be at his mercy, but in fact the quick-witted woman soon finds a way of regaining the upper hand, repeatedly telling him to kill her, even as a crowd gathers to watch. She is still playing the martyr, and her gamble that he will in fact do nothing seems a fairly safe one.

The audience gets the feeling that Chume, whatever he does, will never get the satisfaction of breaking his wife's spirit by physical force. This is one shrew who, unlike Shakespeare's Katharina, will not be tamed.

The Trials of Brother Jero proves to be one of Soyinka's most popular and frequently performed plays. As a light satire, it produces more fun and laughter than serious thought, and Soyinka liked his charlatan of a hero enough to bring him back in a later play, Jero's Metamorphosis first produced in Lagos in However, the tone of the later play presents a stark contrast to that of the earlier one.

Much had happened in Nigeria in the intervening twelve years. The hopes of the newly independent nation had not been fulfilled and, in , there were several military coups. The following year, civil war broke out when Biafra, the eastern region of the country, declared its independence from Nigeria. The civil war ended in , but during the s the country remained under repressive military rule.

Bar Beach, Lagos, the scene of Jero's petty chicanery, was used for public executions. Soyinka was imprisoned for over two years during the civil war, and when he turned his creative attention back to Brother Jero, his vision had darkened. The earlier play ended with Jero pulling into his fold the ambitious but timid Member of Parliament, who wants to become minister for war, thus suggesting that the preacher is about to widen his sphere of influence into the political realm.

Jero's Metamorphosis takes up this hint of an alliance between religious quackery and the political rulers to present a bitter satire with Jero at its center. In his office, Jero displays a portrait of the country's military ruler, so the changed conditions under wich the country is operating are clear at the outset. The plot centers around the plan of the authorities to evict the rag-tag group of preachers from the beach and develop it for tourism.

They also have plans to build a large stadium on the beach where they would hold public executions. Part of the plan involves issuing a license to just one religious group to operate on the beach. The role of the favored church would be to say prayers before and after the executions and give sermons to the crowds pointing out that perpetrators of crime will meet with a bad end. Jero fears that the Salvation Army is about to be appointed as the state-approved sect, so he gathers all the preachers together and announces he is forming a new church in the image of the country's military rulers.

Everyone is given a military title, including Chume, who, it turns out, spent only three months in the lunatic asylum and was soon won back into Jero's fold by the preacher's promise of rapid promotion. Chume is immediately appointed a brigadier in the new church, and Jero persuades the head of the Tourist Board to grant them their desired spiritual monopoly on the beach. Jero thus sets himself up as the spiritual wing of the ruling military junta, creating an ugly alliance between religion and the repressive rulers of the state that has the people at its mercy.

Jero has grown from petty con man to a state-sanctioned leader of a militarized church that does the bidding of a regime that executes its enemies in public as a form of mass entertainment. For Jero, this represents progress, but for Nigeria, Soyinka suggests, it represents the opposite.

Alan Jacobs In the following excerpt, Jacobs provides an overview of Soyinka's life and oeuvre, including The Trials of Brother Jero, and emphasizes the playwright's significance to contemporary literature. I can hear the capital letters in the voices of those who ask. These names are usually greeted by puzzlement, for, though both have won the Nobel Prize for Literature—Milosz in and Soyinka in —and both have been on The McNeil-Lehrer Newshour, neither has entered the American public consciousness in a potent way.

Milosz is more likely to be familiar, though, and apparently my interlocutors think him a more plausible choice; my claim for Soyinka almost always earns skeptical looks. I imagine that this skepticism derives from the still-common picture of Africa as the dark continent, full of illiterate savages a picture that the Western media do little to dispel ; and also from the suspicion that any African Nobel laureate must be the beneficiary of multicultural affirmative action.

But if anything, Soyinka is a more comprehensive genius even than Milosz. Here is a writer of spectacular literary gifts; he is an acclaimed lyric and satirical poet, a brilliant novelist of ideas, a memoirist both nostalgic and harrowing, and almost certainly the greatest religious dramatist of our time.

The assumption that he has come to our attention only because of academic politics is profoundly unjust—though perhaps understandable, considering the number of mediocre talents who have assumed recent prominence for just such reasons. That assumption also carries a heavy load of irony, given the distance between the triviality of American academic politics—what Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

The Trials of Brother Jero & The Strong Breed

Soyinka's book on the political collapse of his native Nigeria, The Open Sore of a Continent, teaches us how absurdly misbegotten our whole literary-political conversation tends to be.

Through this book, and through the shape his career has assumed, Soyinka brings compelling messages to our warring parties. To the traditionalists who deplore "the politicization of literary discourse," Soyinka serves as a living reminder that writers in some parts of the world don't get to choose whether their work will be political; that is a privilege enjoyed by those who happen to be born into stable and relatively peaceable societies.

Others have politics thrust upon them. But Soyinka also tells our Young Turks that their cardinal principle—Everything is Political—is true only in an utterly trivial sense. To adapt a famous phrase from George Orwell , if everything is political, some things are a hell of a lot more political than others.

Whichever side of this dispute one tends to be on, or even if one isn't on either side, Soyinka's story is worth paying attention to, because his career has been virtually derailed by the collapse of his native country into political tyranny and social chaos. Soyinka has not eagerly thrown his energies into protest and polemic in the way that, for instance, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn did in the days of the Soviet empire; unlike Solzhenitsyn, he is no natural polemicist.

However, Soyinka has also been unable to follow the route of Solzhenitsyn's older contemporary Boris Pasternak, which was to combat political tyranny by ignoring it, by cultivating a realm of personal feeling impervious to the corrosive solvent of Politics. As Czeslaw Milosz writes of Pasternak, "confronted by argument, he replied with his sacred dance.

It is hard to question his choice; it is equally hard to celebrate it, for it has led a fecund and celebratory poetic mind into an abyss of outrage. Soyinka's homeland has suffered from the same consequences of colonialism that have afflicted almost every modern African state. The area now called Nigeria is occupied by many peoples, the most prominent among them being the Hausa, the Yoruba, and the Ibo. The boundaries of the country do not reflect the distribution of these ethnic populations; there are Ibo people in Cameroon, Yoruba in Benin, Hausa in Niger.

The physical shape of Nigeria is an administrative fiction deriving from the way the colonial powers parceled out the "dark continent" in the nineteenth century. Somalia alone among African countries is ethnically homogeneous. So when the British granted independence to Nigeria in , this most populous of African nations had some considerable work to do to make itself into a real nation, as opposed to a collection of adversarial ethnicities.

These problems have been exacerbated by almost continually increasing tensions between Christians and Muslims in the country. No wonder, then, that civic rule has been the exception rather than the norm in Nigeria's history, and that civilian governments have served only at the behest of the military, who have been quick to take over and impose martial law whenever they have sensed the coming of chaos, or genuine democracy—for them the two amount to more or less the same thing.

And with martial law has always come strict censorship of all the media, which makes it difficult for even the most apolitical writer to avoid politics. Besides, respect for intellectuals is so great in most African cultures that writers can scarcely resist the pleas of their people for help. The Yoruba are traditionally among the greatest sculptors in Africa, and their labyrinthine mythology is so coherent and compelling that even the selling of many Yoruba people into slavery could not eradicate it: especially in places where great numbers of Yoruba were transported most notably Brazil and Haiti it survived by adapting itself, syncretistically, to certain Catholic traditions.

The chief Yoruba gods the orisa became conflated with the popular saints; the results can be seen even today in religions, or cults, like Santeria. The notorious Haitian practice of voodoo is largely an evil corruption of Yoruba medicine, which typically seeks to confuse the evil spirits who cause illness and draw them from the ill person into a doll or effigy, which is then beaten or destroyed. This form of medical treatment is crucial to one of Soyinka's earliest and most accessibly powerful plays, The Strong Breed Trying to survive as a man of God whilst in this world.

Negotiating the daily minefield of strictures, frustrations and challenges. He does all he can to hold his "flock", such as it is, together.

Indeed Jero himself confesses early on that he faces many trials from women, including lascivious temptations. Brother Jero is presented as a tarnished man, cunning and resourceful Hence we see him exactly the way he is - "a man of God" trying to survive in a world fraught with sundry challenges.

His creator Soyinka unleashes and unravels a gamut of wry situations and comments, and one can imagine the young Soyinka chuckling aloud! When Jero returns he has arranged for Chume to be taken to an insane asylum, and his newest Penitent is more strongly convinced of his status as a Prophet, dedicating himself to Jero as his "Master. Examine the view that the play, 'The Trials of Brother Jero' is about religious fraud and commodification of worship. The Trials of Brother Jero is a satire of religion, specifically, Christianity.

Soyinka portrays Brother Jero as a fraud, who takes advantage of people who follow him blindly as he offers them falsities.

In this portrayal, religion is illustrated The Trials of Brother Jero study guide contains a biography of Wole Soyinka, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. Remember me. Forgot your password?

Buy Study Guide. There are a variety of themes in this novel.I know there are writers who get up every morning and sit by their typewriter or word processor or pad of paper and wait to write. Take Strong Breed, for instance—the ritual of the carrier I used in that play is not a Yoruba ritual at all. For Knight's career was devoted chiefly to the contention that Shakespeare's plays, however "secular" they might appear, were really Christian in a mythic or archetypal sort of way through and through.

Wole Soyinka. He walks toward Amope, banging his drums, but Amope shoos him away.

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