(Presented in Spanish)
In early twentieth-century Spanish culture – and the culture of centuries prior – a proper Spanish woman was expected to guard her virginity, unless an honorable sanctioned marriage should occur. In turn, the honor of her family name would be preserved. This family honor was one of extreme importance in Spanish culture, one that pervaded many aspects of everyday life. In the 1936 play La casa de Bernarda Alba, the author, Federico García Lorca, tells the story of five Spanish daughters living under the absolute control of their recently-widowed mother, Bernarda. Through the use of symbolism, Lorca emphasizes the passion and repression of the daughters, which leads to their sexual frustrations.
This play raises the question, why is a man writing about the sufferings of women during a time when women’s rights, as well as their struggles, were not a concern of most women, let alone a man? Lorca’s sensibility and empathy towards women stems from his homosexuality. By examining the parallel use of symbolism in Lorca’s other works, one can see that in this influential play, Lorca expresses his own feelings of sexual repression through the sexual frustration and the desire for sexual freedom that is experienced by Bernarda’s five daughters.
Nathan Spalding, ’15
Major: Environmental Studies
Sponsor: Marcela Ochoa-Shivapour