- Created by: Zoe Alford
- Created on: 09-01-12 20:13
The House of Bernarda Alba (Spanish: La casa de Bernarda Alba) is a play by the Spanish dramatist Federico García Lorca. Commentators have often grouped it with Blood Wedding and Yerma as a "rural trilogy". Lorca did not include it in his plan for a "trilogy of the Spanish earth" (which remained unfinished at the time of his murder).Lorca described the play in its subtitle as a drama of women in the villages of Spain. The House of Bernarda Alba was Lorca's last play, completed on 19 June 1936, two months before the author's murder by the Nationalists (fascists) during the Spanish Civil War. The play was first performed in 1945. The play centers on the events of a house in Andalusia during a period of mourning, in which Bernarda Alba (aged 60) wields total control over her five daughters Angustias (39 years old), Magdalena (30), Amelia (27), Martirio, (24), and Adela (20). The housekeeper (La Poncia) and Bernarda's elderly mother (María Josefa) also live there.
The deliberate exclusion of any male character from the action helps build up the high level of sexual tension that is present throughout the play. Pepe "el Romano", the love interest of Bernarda's daughters and suitor of Angustias, never appears on stage. The play explores themes of repression, passion, and conformity, and inspects the effects of men upon women.
Upon her second husband's death, Bernarda Alba, a dominating woman, imposes an 8-year mourning period on her household, as has been her family tradition. Bernarda has 5 daughters, aged between 20 and 39, whom she has controlled inexorably and prohibited from any form of relationship. The mourning period further isolates them and tension mounts within the household.
After a mourning ritual at the family home, eldest daughter Angustias enters, having been absent while the guests were there. Bernarda fumes, assuming she had been listening to the men's conversation on the patio. Angustias inherited a large sum of money from her father, Bernarda's first husband, but her second husband has left only small amounts to his 4 daughters. Angustias' wealth attracts a young, attractive suitor from their village, Pepe el Romano. Her sisters are jealous, believing that it's unfair that Angustias, plain and rather sickly, should receive both the majority of the money and the freedom to marry and escape their suffocating home environment.
Youngest sister Adela, stricken with sudden spirit and jubilation after her father's funeral, defies Bernarda's orders and dons a green dress instead of staying in mourning black. Her brief taste of youthful joy is suddenly shatters when she discovers that Angustias will be marrying Pepe. Poncia, Bernarda's maid, advises Adela to bide her time: Angustias will probably die delivering her first child. Distressed, Adela threatens to run into the streets in her green dress, but her sisters manage to stop her. Suddenly…