Humorism and Characterization in Topan’s Mfalme Juha
This paper discusses the character of King Juha, the protagonist of the comedy Mfalme Juha by Farouk Topan, using an approach that considers the humoristic dimension of this character. The definition of humorism employed here is that given by Pirandello: the result of an aesthetic process in which the comic effect deriving from an object of laughter is tempered and contrasted by a “sentiment of the contrary” that observes and builds empathy with the inner contradictions of the object itself. After a short outline of Mfalme Juha’s critical history which shows that the humoristic dimension of King Juha has never been considered in critiques, this paper focuses on an analysis of this character, in which the core feature of egocentricity is identified. Juha’s egocentricity and its humoristic nature are analysed in the character’s relationship with his subjects as their king and in his idea of art and culture; in both cases it is shown that what is important is not the wickedness or egoism of Juha, but his lack of comprehension of the world. Juha is incapable of understanding his environment and other people, since he can not doubt his own superiority: this puts him in several comic situations, but on the other hand makes him a victim of his smart subjects, so that he arouses a feeling of sympathy in which Pirandello’s sentiment of the contrary can be traced.