”The House of Bernada Alba” by Garcia Lorca Essay Sample
- Word count: 1472
- Category: play
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”The House of Bernada Alba” by Garcia Lorca Essay Sample
‘The house of Bernada Alba’ was written by Garcia Lorca in the 20th century before the beginning of the Spanish civil war. Lorca uses the play to describe what it was like for women living at the time of the civil war. The play is about a family of women in which all the daughters all love the same man, a marriage is planned between the oldest daughter Angustias and the man, Pepe el Romano, however this marriage is for money not for love, Pepe actually loves Adela. In the play there is a strong male influence however no men actually speak in the play, it always shows men to be outside in the open whilst the women cooped up inside in the house. This shows that women at the time the play was written were oppressed and weren’t aloud to be ‘free’. In the play we see a lot of religion however we dont see much Christianity as the house seems to be lacking the simple moral rules set up by the Christian faith.
There is a lot of imagery in the story however a lot of it stems from religion, for example the play begins with the ringing of church bells, they cause the servant to get a headache. We see this as she says “The sound of those bells is right inside my head.” This quote could be seen as symbolism as at the time the church was very oppressive, this is where we see the church and religion take an important role in the play straight away.
We also see religious connotations from the play through the set, in the introduction to the play it says “An extremely white inner room in Bernarda’s house. Solid walls. Arched doorways with jute curtains edged with tassels and ruffles.” Through the fact that the colour white is prominent, we can find out many things about the house, and the family that live in the house. In religion white is perceived as being a religious colour that priests wear which symbolizes purity. Another way that the colour white could be perceived would be through connotations of virginity and innocence, which is ironic as we see throughout the play.
We see the lack of religion in the household when we see the lack of charity from both Bernada and the servant. On page 9 it says “Since now she’s not eating, she wants us all to starve!” this shows that Bernada is not willing to share her food with her servants even though she isn’t eating it. We also see the lack of charity from the servant with the beggar woman, it says in the text “That’s the way out. Today’s scraps are for me!” Both Bernada and the servant are committing one of the seven deadly sins here by showing signs of gluttony by not sharing there food and keeping all to themselves. This shows that as the bible shows, ‘Do onto others as you would be done by’ comes into this quite nicely as the servant is being completely contradictory.
It is clear that Bernada is not very Christian as she clearly insults poor people and how they live, in the text it says “The poor are like animals. It’s as if they’re made of different stuff.” This comparison of poor people to animals clearly disagrees with what it says in the bible where it says to treat everyone with respect no matter what.
We clearly see religion, or a lack of Christianity when we see the men standing outside in the courtyard after the funeral, and the women stuck inside, enclosed. We hear a lot of gossip and smutty talk from both the men and women which is clearly unchristian, they are all guilty of impure thoughts. Also at this point Bernada says that the only man that women should be looking at in church is the priest as hes wearing a skirt and therefore emasculating him, this is obviously unchristian.
In the kitchen we hear all of the women go into prayer for the departed, this is ironic as none of them really care. This therefore means that they are talking Gods name in vein, none of them care about what has gone on they are just performing a ritual for the departed, it could be seen as Bernada is ordering God what to do by going through with this ritual.
We clearly see the lack of Christianity again from Bernada when she says “I have five chains, one for the each of them” she locks her mother away and is more that willing to do the same to her daughters if they step out of line. Bernada also believes that Antonio Benevides should get a free pass into heaven just simply because of his social status. She says “Grant peace to your servant Antonio Maria Benavides and give him the crown of your blessed glory.” This could be seen as Bernada playing God by deciding who goes to heaven or not, clearly shows a lack of Christianity. Bernada commits another sin when the servant come in with her husbands old clothes to give away and she says “Nothing. Not a button! Not even the handkerchief we used to cover his face!” This shows her greed and that she would prefer to keep all of her husbands possessions and not use them that give them to the poor.
In the play we see the seven deadly sins all used, for example, we see greed in Pepe el Romano as he is only marrying Angustias for her money. We see pride in Bernada as we see that she does allow a marriage to happen because he husband was not ‘good enough’ for her daughter. We see envy through all of the sisters towards Angustias’ marriage with Pepe, also we see envy with the servant as she says “She’s always been good to you!” Through this quote we see the servants jealousy toward Poncias relationship with Bernada. Another sin we see is lust, throughout the play we see Bernada and her lust for power and Pepe trying to marry into power. We see gluttony through Poncia and the servant stealing food from the kitchen and not sharing any with the beggar woman. Lastly we see adultery at the end of Act 1 when we here about the young woman being chased down the road after she had committed adultery.
In Act 2 we see a lot to do with religion we see all of the daughters shows envy and jealousy towards Angustias because of her marriage and the fact that she is inheriting all of the money, we also see Bernada be very non Christian when the woman is being chased down the hill, she screams “Finish her off before the police arrive! Place a burning coal where her sin lies!” this shows that she wants a murder to take place which could be the most unchristian thing that could happen, on the other hand next to her Adela says “(Clutching her stomach) No! No!” This shows that she feels sick at the very thought of a murder and really doesn’t want it to happen, this shows her to be a good Christian, we also see this in Prudencia as she says that her only comfort is in the church.
We see religion right at the end of the play when we see the death of Adela, she dies for what she thinks is right to save the consequences of others, she ‘wore the crown of thorns’ we see this as an act similar to Jesus’, she died to save others. However at the same time Bernada is showing pride and selfishness when she says “My daughter has died a virgin! Take her to her room and dress her like a pure maiden. No one will say anything! She has died a virgin! Tell them the bells should ring twice at dawn.” She is willing to lie to everyone just keep herself looking good, she doesn’t care about anything else as long as she looks good.
In conclusion, In Lorca’s Play – ‘The House of Bernada Alba’ there are many Religious connotations throughout the play and it has a very great significance, the way that religion, and in a lot of cases, the lack of it, shows that the church and religion was a very big and important factor at the time. Religion has a great significance in the play; it lets the reader see what is going on in the play from a different perspective if you view it from a religious perpective. And also it sets the moral standards and rules that Bernada sets out to follow however they get twisted and broken along the way.