Q & A: Discuss the appropriateness of the title “The Gods are not to Blame”

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Discuss the appropriateness of the title “The Gods are not to Blame

The Gods are not to Blame is the title of a tragic play by Ola Rotimi. The play demonstrates the interplay of man’s struggles with destiny.

Odewale, the tragic hero in the play, is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. Efforts to avert this destiny by both the bearer and his parents amount to nothing as the destiny is fulfilled eventually.

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The title and the idea behind it originate from Odewale when he says the gods should not be blamed for his bad destiny and the consequent tragedy that consumes him. The title beggars the question: if the gods are not to blame, then who is to blame?

In the worldview of Odewale, the fault is his. If he hadn’t tried resisting his destiny by running away from home — from Hunter Ogundele and his wife Mobike whom he thought were his real parents —, the gods’ machinations for him would not have been realised. If he hadn’t been too much of an ethnic bigot, he wouldn’t have been provoked to kill the old man who turned out to be his real father.

His human foibles give the gods the space to operate. His ethnic bigotry and hot-temperedness lead him hand in hand to his tragic end.

The character of Gbonka also shares much of the blame. If he hadn’t chosen to disobey the order to kill Odewale at infant, there wouldn’t have been any instance of Odewale fulfilling his destiny.

Gbonka’s compassion and pity for the child makes him give the child to Alaka instead of killing him as he is told.

In response to who is to blame, the humans might just be a fitting response. The title of the play, The Gods are not to Blame, appropriates with the relevance of human free will and choice. The gods do not force any of the characters to make their decisions. They only exploit human weaknesses.

Therefore, the title of the play is appropriate because it puts the human characters in a position to account for their actions and inactions rather than blame the gods for their woes.

This is exactly what Odewale does when he takes responsibility for his actions and subjects himself to a punishment he had ironically prescribed.

On the basis of this, the alternative title of the play will then be “The Humans are to Blame.”

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