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Quick summary of the plot:
Bernarda Alba has been recently widowed, the play opens at her husband's funeral. She has five daughters whom she keeps a close eye on, controlling them, running their lives, making their decisions. Bernarda rules the house, most hate her. One of her daughters has recently been engaged to a respectable man, but it is soon revealed that perhaps one or two of her other daughters is in love with the same man.
My Thoughts and opinions:
I came across this play while studying it at school. I find it interesting to see how my perception of the play has changed over the years. Now at 22 I understand the play better and I appreciate it a lot more. One of the things I enjoyed about this play is its relatability, that on some level most people...or most women can relate to the situations that arise in this play, such as having controlling parents, at some age I'm sure we've all experienced our parents not allowing us to do something and us wishing to rebel against it, so it's interesting to look at this similar situation but on a much larger scale in a time period and country different to our own. For those who have experienced this kind of life on this scale would also be able to relate to the characters and their situation a lot more.
Another thing of interest to me was the theme of feminism and power. The women are confined to domesticity, to being wife and mother, and the men have all the power, this clearly stated by Poncia - a servant. The characters often talk about what is proper and improper lady behaviour. A couple of women are either abused or talked of in a negative manner, simply because they do not wish to confine themselves to the domestic sphere, they are outgoing and confident. One woman kills her illegitimate baby, and is beaten up because of it (the scene is not shown, only spoken of), yet at the same time had she kept the baby and had she made it known that she had an illegitimate child, the chances are the townsfolk would have probably dragged her down the street and beaten her up anyway. The play is about the unfairness of life for women back in those days, but again this is something that is so relatable even now, in certain cultures, in some countries, in many families, women are still confined and they have no choice in whether or not they want to be domestic wives and mothers. So from this point of view, it again makes for an interesting read.
There are other themes such as rich versus poor, power, death, sisterhood, and so on.
The other thing I enjoyed about the play were the characters themselves, and my favourite being Poncia, here is a servant who in some ways has very little in terms of money, food, clothing, but she holds a lot of power in the house, and something I missed the first time I read it, was how manipulative she actually is. She aso has her odd moments of comedy, depending on how you perceive the character to be portrayed. She makes for a strong female character, and it's worth reading just for Poncia.
Some points about the play:
- This is an all women play with 18 characters, written by Federico Garcia Lorca.
- Setting is Spain, the play was published in 1946.
- Split into two Acts, makes this a quick play.
- Language is fairly easy to understand, but I'd recommend it for 15 years and older.
- It is ideal for GCSE and A-level performances, there are some scenes that you can just pick out without having to do the whole play.
- It is a serious play, with minor elements of comedy dotted around.
Overall it's a great play, a must read or a must see.
When Bernarda's husband dies, she locks all the doors and windows. She tells her grown-up daughters to sew and be silent. But locks can't hold back the growing tide of desire. This play by Lorca, the last he wrote before his assassination, explores the darkness at the heart of repression.