This work introduces the major variable in this research topic as
well as gives a brief background of the text adopted for critical
analysis. The text selected for the study, therefore will focus on the
concept of symbol and decadence as well as its relevance to the novel.
This research examines symbols of Decadence in this novel: Ayi Kwei
Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. This work focuses on the
theory of Marxism. The theory will then focus on the thematic concern of
symbols and decadence of the text selected for the study. Armah has
successfully shown in the text above how the political independence of
1957 in Ghana has failed to lessen the yoke of colonialism from the
common people in Ghana.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.1 Theoretical Framework and Methodology
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
1.3 Authorial Background
1.4 Purpose of the Study
1.5 Scope of the Study
2.1 Literature Review
3.1 Symbol of Decadence in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
3.2 Character Portrayal as Theme and Technique
4.1 Symbolic Type and Societal Relevance
4.2 Symbols used as Decadence Stamps
5.1 The Effects of Symbolic Decadence in the Ghanian Society
This chapter introduces the major variable (Symbols of Decadence) in
the research topic as well as give a brief background of the text
adopted for critical analysis.
The text selected for the study therefore, focuses on the concept of
symbols of decadence as well as its relevance to socio-economic and
political cleansing of the Ghanaian society.
A symbol was defined according to Northrop Frye in his book “Anatomy
of criticism” is something such as object, picture, written word, sound
or particular mark that represents something else by association
resemblance or convention for example, a red octagon may be a symbol for
“stop”. On map crossed sabres may indicate a battlefield. All language
consists of symbols personal numberals are symbols for numbers names are
symbols representing individuals.
Swiss Psychoanalyst Carl Jung, who studied archetypes, proposed an
alternative definition of symbol distinguishing it from the term sign.
In Jung’s view, a sign stands for something known, as a word stands for
its referent. He contrasted this with symbol which he used to stand for
something that is unknown and that cannot be made clear or precise. An
example of a symbol in this sense is Christ as a symbol of the archetype
Decadence according to Oscar Wilde; he gave a curious definition
“Classicism in the subordination of the parts to the whole, decadence is
the subordination of the whole to the parts”.
It can also be the state of being degenerate in metal or moral
qualities. A state of moral or artistic decline or determination decay.
It can be refer to a personal trait or to the state of a society (or
segment of it).
Often decadence a literary movement especially of last 19th century
France and England characterized by refined aestheticism artifice and
the guest for new sensation. The state reacted through such a process.
Symbol is totally different from an Anecdote, Metaphor, Figure of
Speech and Imagery. Symbol is different from Anecdote which is a short
and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person. It may
be as brief as the setting and provocation of a bon mol. An anecdote is
always presented as based on a red incident involving actual persons,
whether famous on not usually in an identifiable place, also figure of
speech is use or a phrase with a specialized meaning not based on the
literal meaning of the words in it, such as a metaphor, simile and
personification etc. Figures of speech often provide emphasis freshness
of expression or clarity. Clarity may also suffer from their use as any
figures of speech introduce an ambiguity between literal and figurative
interpretation. A figure of speech of sometime called rhetoric or a
Moreover, Metaphor on the other hand is a figure of speech, in which
an implied comparism is made between two unlike things that actually
have something important in common. Metaphor is a Greek word meaning
‘to transfer’ or ‘carry across’, quality or state can be compared
without using the words like or as. It is thus a condensed form of
simile. Imagery is different from Symbol, it is a form of mental images,
figures or likeness as of some images. Collectively the imagery or a
dream, pectoral images collectively, especially those produced by the
activity of imagination.
1.1 theoretical frame work and methodology
The Marxist theory will be adopted for the critical analysis of the
text, out of all the theory, Marxism is a modern theory where dialectic
materialism is emphasized. When literature began to be recognized as a
weapon for social change, as a struggle of the individual for economic
and political power.
Marxists tell us about past and present social relations and
implications of an author’s work; what they should have been or ought to
The ideological aspects are of interest to Marxists who operate on
the theory of political economy. Attention is paid in the main to the
struggle of opposites (dialectics) and to the examination of social
contradictions in the society. These is an emphasis on class
propaganda and revolutionary didacticism as well as the ideological
specification of the total state. There is also emphasis on the
deterministic origin of art, the economic and social status
(proletarian, pseudo-bourgeois or aristocratic) of artists and artisans
in various past eras.
Marxism was originated by Karl Marx in 19th century, a political
thinker. Hence this text aims at an analytical application of the
traditional mode to indicate the ideological exegesis of the various
schools indicated, (Ibrahim & Akande, 2000,21). Marxist approach
aims at an analytical application of the traditional mode to indicate
the ideological exegesis of the various schools indicated for Karl Marx
himself “Combines traditional materialism with the critical analysis of
development bringing out the conflict between the original direction,
its direct opposite and their unification”. The African write
pre-occupation is to negate the happening in the growing urban cities
include Festus Iyayi, Zaynab Alkali, Olu Obafemi, Niyi Osundare, Odia
Ofeimum, Tanuri Ojoide etc.
Symbol and decadence are related because decadence in the society is a
symbol, a machinery of oppression in the human society. These symbols
of decadence therefore constitute a problem that the Marxist writers
seek to address in the Marxist theory.
The research findings here revealed that there is decadence,
oppression and corruption in the society, but the problem of this
research is now encountering is the issue of how these vices of the
society which can be termed as basically ‘Symbols of decadence’ affect
the larger human society that make up the proletariat. The psychological
and emotional trauma of Sigmund Freud (1967) of the effect of these
channels of depriving the society their rights is a major issue that
this research addresses.
The methodology of this work focuses on the theory of Marxism theory.
The theory will then focus on the thematic concern of symbols and
decadence of the text selected for the study. The thematic concern
incorporates sub-themes in the story that will revolve around this major
theme to develop the elements in the theory for the analysis.
The population for the study is textual population under study are
not real human being, but characters that are rigid in a story are
accessible. The text used which represent the struggle of individual
in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. We have some characters that
share different perspective on the view of symbol and decadence. The
author pick-out some character to represent the corrupt society, Armah
create a gap between the haves and have not.
Joseph Koomson also known as Joe Koomson represents the rich and ‘The Man’ represent the poor in the society.
We can then imply that the author have stratified the population the
text, thus the stratified sampling will be adopted for study. The
discourse of the major character will be used to focus on the major
theme of the text alongside the elements identifiable in the Marxism
1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
The research problems are areas of concern that affect the human
society. The questions to be focused on, in order to overcome this
problem therefore, are these research questions:
- What are the symbols of decadence in the society?
- How has decadence cause trauma and loss of hope in the human society?
- What are the ways in which decadence can be overcomed in the society?
The decadence in the society is a symbol or vices that have been
affecting the human society, especially Africa for decades. The research
hypothesis therefore would be that decadence, corruption and oppression
can be wiped out, if man would change for the better, if people can be
more contented and have the fear of God. If this could happen, the
present today will give birth to a better tomorrow when the Beautyful
Ones will be Born in Africa and the world as a whole.
1.3 AUTHORIAL BACKGROUND
Ayi Armah was born at Sekondi-Takoradi a place now called Ghana in
1939. He attended Secondary School at Achimota College and Groton, he
went to Harvard to get a degree in Sociology and Columbia to get an MFA
in creative Writing. He has worked as a translator and a teacher at
Amherst and the University of Wisconsin at Madison as well as several
Armah was also an editor of Jeune Afrique in 1968-1969 and it shows
the intense concern with social and political commitment which was
further energized by the atmosphere of increasing political activism, he
encountered in United State especially among African and American.
His first novel The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born was published in
(1968). It is still in print and is considered a Modern African classic.
He has written numerous novels which include Fragments (1970) Why Are
We So Blest? (1974) and Two Thousand Seasons in (1979).
1.4 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this research is to examine symbol of decadence in
this text: Ayi Kwei Armah The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. The study
also aims at examining the elements in the story that constitutes the
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study is very wide, as the research variables
symbols of decadence is a concept that is interrelated and wide in scope
but the research limits its scope to the issues of symbol and decadence
in the text adopted for the study.
The symbols of decadence are issue that require of relevant and
adequate attention as they affect the human society. Ayi Kwei Armah
addresses the ills of the society and all the channels of perpetrating
these vices in the community.
These issues are those that the study addresses and the limit will be
on the vices as they eat into the deep core of the society.
The justification of this work is that symbol and decadence is simple
to study and according to the findings researchers have dealt with the
novel that have only limited their study to either class differences or
oppress. This research will therefore examine how the authors have
addressed the issue of symbols of decadence in his work.
Symbol and decadence are the key vital image that constitutes the
problems that affect the masses. These symbols will be areas of focus
that will be addressed in the course of the study. Government, citizen
and the entire human society will benefit from this study. The notion of
the people about oppression and corruption will change if people can be
truthful and also live a corrupt-free life.