Portrayal Of Women In Wives Revolve And Our Husband Has Gone Mad

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

Portrayal Of Women In Wives Revolve And Our Husband Has Gone Mad


Feminist literary criticism is a literary analysis that arises from the view point of feminism, feminist theory, and/or feminist politics. This study seeks to describe and analyze the ways in which literature portrays the narrative of male domination in regard to female bodies by exploring the economic, social, political, and psychological forces embedded within literature. The study is primarily concerned with the analysis of the selected plays text from the divergent prism of dialogism toward understanding the issues surrounding female consciousness in Nigeria theatre. The research will serve as a reference point of feminist scholarship to the Nigeria Theatre.

Chapter One


Background of the Study

It is assumed that for Africa and indeed the world to be an egalitarian society; teachers must find innovative ways of using language to deconstruct sexist literature and helping readers, particularly students, to imagine a world in which there can be genuine equality.

As stated by Finnegan, Ruth (2011: 64), the artist undoubtedly remains a socio, political force in any social formation. Apart from playing the role of an entertainer, the artist uses his artistic creation to instill truth into people’s consciousness in any given age. It is also true that when anomalies and contradictions become too glaring in any society the literary artist feels called upon to rectify such anomalies found in the society using art as a weapon.The artist’s mode of assessing an existing sociopolitical system, the people’s attitude etc. in a society,is satire – a form of writing which makes fun of the evil or foolish behaviour of people, institutions or society in general. The literary artist is known to have used satire from the beginning of literary history (64).

Before Nigeria gained its independence, a lot of brilliant thoughts had been spurred by the political consciousness that had been unleashed on the African Negroes who had exploited the gift of literacy and intellectual enlightenment via the acquisition of formal education. Artists like Hubert Ogunde had already begun to criticise colonialism in their works and in the process opened the eyes of the masses to the reality of the country’s situation. According to Ebun Clark (1978: 23):

‘Ogunde’s Theatre participated in the cultural renaissance in the forties so did it in the nationalist movement…’
It was works like this along with other initiatives that spurred the struggle for self governance and before long, Nigeria gained its independence. However, self governance soon proved to be as vicious as colonialism (if not worse) as exemplified by corruption, inefficient leadership and greed, vices which came to be synonymous with Nigerian politicians. Again, the literary scholars took to their pens to criticise their wrong doings. Some wrote in newspapers, while others treated the issues on television and other mass media. On the other hand, some decided to employ the theatre.

Two of the more famous proponents of feminism are:

Ann Oakley, a British sociologist and writer, born 1944. Her works include ‘Women Confined: Towards sociology of childbirth.’(1980) and ‘Who’s afraid of Feminism?’ (1997). her father was a social policy theorist.

Claire Wallace, a British sociologist and writer. Wallace was a professor at Aberdeen University. Her most famous work is ‘An Introduction to Sociology: Feminist Perspectives’ (1990). Wallace was president of the European Sociology Association 2007-09.

Feminist Literary Criticism

Feminist literary criticism is informed by feminist theory . It can be understood as using feminist principles and ideological discourses to critique the language of literature, its structure and being. This school of thought seeks to describe and analyze the ways in which literature portrays the narrative of male domination in regard to female bodies by exploring the economic, social, political, and psychological forces embedded within literature.
Feminist literary criticism is literary analysis that arises from the view point of feminism, feminist theory and/or feminist politics. Basic methods of feminist literary criticism include:

  1. Identifying with female characters: This is a way to challenge the male-centred outlook of authors. Feminist literary criticism suggests that women in literature were historically presented as objects seen from a male perspective.
  2. Re-evaluating literature and the world in which literature is read: This involves questioning whether society has predominantly valued male authors and their literary works because it has valued males more than females.

A feminist literary critic resists traditional assumptions while reading. In addition to challenging assumptions which were thought to be universal, feminist literary criticism actively supports including women’s knowledge in literature and valuing women’s experiences.

The notion is that men use the smoke screen of culture, politics, economic, tradition, and all other sectors of the society to adulate patriarchy at the expense of the female gender. Even in the dramatic concept we hardly see many of these female writers except for the likes of Osonye Tess Onwueme who is the god mother of feminism in Nigeria, Tracy Chima Utoh, the late Zulu Sofola and few others. This impression is misleading, as some male writers like J.P Clark, Femi Osofisan, Kole Omotosho, Ngugi WaThiongu, Ola Rotimi and others have all addressed feminism in their various works. However, we shall analyse Ola Rotimi’s our husband has gone mad again and J.P Clark’s “The wives Revolt” as the address the issue of feminism.

Literature Review

An intellectual x-ray of scholarly write-ups on the subject of feminism creates the notion that the subjugation of Africa women is a product of a society dominated by male. Women are exploited and oppressed in all sectors of the economy. Observably, his call for social change has been the subject of discourse by many contemporary dramatists.
However, one aspect of ola rotimi’s feminist literary criticism has been glossed over by many, in his call for female empowerment in the political circle or scenario. Rotimi does not hide his disgust for political class who is bereft of creating ideas, yet continue to hold the nation captive. Toying with the idea of female empowerment in such a set up, therefore, amount to tacit call for revolt. Rotimi is however, not unaware of the fact that men dominate the political, economic, social, education and even in the traditional setting where women are reduced to house wives not allowing them to contribute important matters of the state. Therefore, his recipe for a new system that will empower female as collective actions by the women; casting away the garments of subservient, ignorance and passiveness. Salami(2001:158) is of the view that:

“One way of breaking unto the male political circle and destroying the myth of male political monopoly in Nigeria is to get involved in politics and government, so as to influence Legislation and policies to favor women”

This can only happen when the women develop a new political consciousness and drive within themselves to fight for power transfer. The women can exploit the high handedness, political naivety and dictatorial tendencies characteristic of most men.

Scope and Limitation of the Study

This thesis is a theoretical work: as it primarily concerned with the analysis of the selected plays text, the conceptualisation of feminism, the evolvement of Nigeria theatre. The research focuses on the textual analysis of the play text, rather than an inquiry on the performances thereof, which always includes the director’s interpretation and hence out of the scope of this research work. The assumptions concluded from this research can therefore only be representative in view of the limited numbers of plays analysed. Whereas the linkage between feminism and Nigerian theatre are examined, this research is limited to the selected text as its area of study.

Significance of the Study

Feminism is a new introduction to the evolving field of gender scholarship in Africa. Even more so, when viewed against the backdrop of the strong patriarchal stratifications that is obtained in patrlineal societies such as Nigeria.

This study is very important because it provides a distinctive reading of the selected plays, from the divergent prism of dialogism, toward understanding the issues surrounding feminine consciousness in Nigeria theatre. While theatre is not new to Nigeria, neither is women’s representation in plays, but the mainstreaming of women’s struggle for proper representation and audience is a new and attractive field of theatre scholarship. This thesis will serve as an overture for the tripartite of feminism, Nigeria theatre and dialogism to retrospectively appropriate meaning to the question of representation.

The research locates the points of engagement on the discussion of gender, women, feminism and their roles in the theatre. The importance of integrating new concepts, ideas, and ideologies toward understanding the Nigeria theatre will be aided by this research. The research will also serve as a reference point of feminist scholarship to the Nigeria Theatre.

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From the foregoing overview of the works of these Nigerian female dramatists, a case was established for the womenfolk in the various plays. The dramatists have added their voices to the call for women in Nigeria to be given due recognition within the society. Women have been in positions of disadvantage despite their contributions to the building and welfare of the family―the nucleus of the society. These female dramatists are wielding a powerful tool in this struggle because drama has remained an effective tool in sensitizing the society on various social issues. A careful exploitation of this genre of literature in addition to the other avenues is an effective way to re-orientate the society on issues that relate to women.

Nigerian female dramatists have particularly strived to strike a balance in their advocacy, realizing their place as stabilizing agents in the society. Their voice is apt in reflecting what concerns them much more than others could do. This is a major contribution to the development of theatre as a mirror of the society.


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