A New Historicist Reading of Francis Imbuga’s "Betrayal in the City" and Tewfik Al-Hakim’s "Fate of a Cockroach"
Various literary theories have been employed in the analyses of several African dramatic texts in previous studies on African drama. However, few of them have adopted New Historicism as theoretical framework despite the manifest presence of several tenets of New Historicism in many African dramatic texts. This paper is a New Historicist reading of two acclaimed African dramatic texts, Francis Imbuga’s Betrayal in the City and Tewfik Al-Hakim’s Fate of a Cockroach. Foucault’s discourse theory and Stephen Greenblatt’s subversion-containment dialectic are adopted as analytical models for the study. The paper examines the power relations and power struggles among the characters in the selected texts, the subversive incidents and characters in the plays, and how the subversions are contained in the texts. The study highlights the prevalence of power struggles in every stratum of the African society and argues that New Historicism theory deserves a greater application on the analyses of African literary texts, especially African dramatic texts than presently obtains.