Intro to Comparative Literature
The House of Bernarda Alba is a drama depicting the lives of women in villages of Spain during the 20th century. The play begins by the mother, Bernarda, issuing a seven-year mourning period upon her family of five daughters after the death of her beloved spouse. The isolation inside this house causes tensions to rise, and a thematic struggle between freedom and captivity becomes apparent as emotions start to snowball out of control.
Without a spouse in the home, Bernarda takes on a patriarchal role and enforces her daughters to do the same. While Bernarda constantly suppresses her daughters to focus on household, patriarchal chores, their emotions shift towards their interest in men and the desire to be wed. By keeping the daughters in the house, fights begin to break out as the sisters lash out at one another. Adela, the youngest daughters, has a rebellious attitude, fueling her actions through her emotions with no filter. In Act 1 for example, after learning that the eldest daughter is soon to be married to Adela’s love interest, she proclaims, “I don’t want to waste away and grow old in these rooms... I want to get out” (220). Those that surround Adela constantly question her actions, especially Poncia, who was originally the only one knew of her affair. Adela becomes increasingly anxious, itching at the chance to be “free” from Bernarda’s wrath. In Act 2, in an argument with Poncia she says, “I wouldn’t fight you -- you’re just a servant -- I’d fight my mother, to put out this fire that rises from my legs and mouth” (237). Here, the fire is not only fueling throughout her body as a symbol of anger building up, but a sign that the fire rises in her legs to run for freedom and rises from her mouth to express all the frustration towards her situation that she has been holding back to spare the feelings of her family.
As the daughters time in the house increases, their...
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