The Casa de Bernarda Alba (Bernarda Alba’s house) was completed in 1936 and is the last of García Lorca’s tragic works written before his death. However, its premiere would not be seen until 1945 in Argentina. Its premiere in Spain had been impossible because of the Civil War. This play has become at most one of the most performed and appreciated in Spanish theater.
As we have already mentioned, this is a play, this places it within the dramatic genre that is characterized by being a stage representation of a conflict between the characters. In this particular case, many consider it a rural drama given the way the characters are portrayed, while others describe it as a tragedy.
Narrator and characters
In this a play, there is no narrator. All the events that are written are represented on stage by the characters involved. When doing a reading you can find a voice that describes scenes, movements and characters, but this should not be confused with a literary narrator.
- Bernarda: She is a 60-year-old woman who has been widowed for the second time and decides to keep closed mourning for the rest of her life. He has 5 daughters and is also in charge of his elderly mother. It is described as tyrannical.
- María Josefa: is the mother of Bernarda, 80 years old. During the play he appears as a person with mental disorders but sometimes shows great clarity of thought.
- Angustias: she is the oldest daughter of Bernarda with 39 years and the only one committed to marry Pepe. Even at his age he suffers the punishments of his severe mother.
- Magdalena: She is the second of the sisters with 30 years. For her there is no happiness in the present but in the past. Defends his younger sister Adela.
- Amelia: 27 years old, she is the third of Bernarda’s daughters. She is a shy woman who is suspicious of the confinement to which her mother submits her and wishes she could marry and have a family.
- Martirio: She is the fourth of the sisters at 24 years old. She is described as a woman in love and is known to be attracted to her older sister’s fiancé. It is described as ugly and fatalistic.
- Adela: she is only 20 years old and is the youngest of the sisters. She is in love with Pepe, the fiancé of her older sister, which triggers the tragedy of the entire play. She is described as a rebellious girl but that despite this, she is not allowed to get rid of the social weight of the time.
- Pepe the Romano: 25-year-old man who never appears on the scene of the play but who is the center of the whole plot. Angustias’ fiancé but in love with Adela whom he secretly sees.
- the Poncia: This is a 60-year-old woman who works as Bernarda’s maid. He knows everything that happens in the house between Adela and Pepe.
When viewing or reading the work, the relationship of its content with the title becomes obvious. The Casa de Bernarda Alba describes exactly that, what happens in this woman’s house between her and her daughters. This character is controlling and hopes to have absolute dominance over all those around her, which is why the title states that it is her home.
This work begins on the day of the wake of Bernarda’s second husband. The house maids comment on Bernarda’s excessive repression with her daughters. Upon returning from the wake, Bernarda tells her daughters that they must keep 8 years of closed mourning as custom indicates, with the exception of Angustias, the oldest daughter, who is engaged to marry Pepe.
During a conversation while the sisters were sewing, the subject of how Pepe has been staying at home much later after Angustias, his fiancée, goes to sleep. At that moment La Poncia, one of the maids, insinuates them that Pepe could be having an affair with Adela, the younger sister.
Anguish when going to bed after the argument, he discovers that someone has stolen the photo of Pepe that he keeps under his pillow. After a violent confrontation between several sisters, it is discovered that it was martyrdom who stole her.
The climate inside the house is dark and in the middle of the discussions news comes of a girl who, after having a child out of wedlock, decides to kill him and commit suicide. Bernarda before this news praises the fact that he decided to kill himself calling her evil. Adela protests this comment.
After receiving a visit, Bernarda and La Poncia have a few words and then the women go to bed. Adela escapes to see Pepe once again and upon returning to the house, she and Martyrdom are in the middle of a fight over the man. Adela declares that regardless of what others say or what happens, she will be Pepe’s wife.
Bernarda, knowing that he is outside the house, looks for a shotgun and shoots him. Martirio announces that Pepe has died, although in fact he has escaped without a scratch. Hearing this news, Adela decides to commit suicide and hangs herself. Given this, Bernarda decides to bury her as a virgin.
This theater play criticizes the Spanish society of the time. Value systems as well as the behavior expected from women are some of the themes that Bernarda Alba’s house shows in its lines. The mother shows her preference for a single mother to die rather than live in sin and on the margins of society. This, among other topics, shows what Spanish society in the 1930s thought.
- Don’t look at me anymore! If you want, I will give you my eyes, which are fresh, and my back to make up the hump you have. ”
- “Tirana of all those who surround her. He is able to sit on top of your heart and watch you die for a year without closing that cold smile on his damn face. ”
- “And I don’t want crying. Death must be seen face to face. Silence!”