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Theatre / La casa de Bernarda Alba

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La casa de Bernarda Alba (or, in English, The House of Bernarda Alba) is a dramatic Spanish play written by Federico García Lorca shortly before his death in 1936. The play was first staged in 1945. The entire play takes place within the eponymous house after the death of Bernarda's second husband, the father of four of Bernarda's five daughters. To adhere to the local custom, the Albas must mourn for several years and stay within the eponymous house. Tensions within the house grow as Angustias, the eldest daughter, born from Bernarda's first marriage, is courted by Pepe El Romano, and it is soon revealed that Angustias is not the only daughter who interests Pepe. As the play is an allegory for totalitarianism, it's not hard to see why the play's content got Lorca murdered by Franco's Nationals.

It was adapted into a movie in 1987 and into an English-language made for TV movie in 1991.

The characters are:

  • Bernarda Alba - rules her household with an iron fist and a wooden cane but turns a blind eye to the "storm" in every room within the house.
  • Angustias - the eldest daughter, who inherited a substantial amount of money from her father, Bernarda's first husband.
  • Magdelena and Amelia - the two middle daughters
  • Martirio - the second youngest daughter, who is afraid of men and considers herself very ugly. She is secretly in love with Pepe El Romano.
  • Adela - the youngest daughter, who carries on a secret affair with Pepe El Romano and longs to be free from Bernarda's control
  • Maria Josefa - Bernarda's senile mother, who is usually locked upstairs in the house.
  • La Poncia - the knowledgeable maid of the Albas, who has worked for Bernarda for 30 years. She advises Bernarda and the daughters but her good advice is not always heeded.
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  • Pepe El Romano - the never-seen suitor of Angustias. He has an affair with Adela.

This play provides examples of:

  • Calling the Old Man Out: Calling the old woman out, rather, in the climax of the play by Adela.
  • Chromosome Casting: A female example.
  • Driven to Suicide: Adela, when she thinks that Pepe is dead.
  • Evil Is Petty: Bernada's following of tradition at everybody's expense drives her into this.
  • Evil Matriarch: Bernarda fits this to a tee.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry - Mainly between Martirio and Adela.
  • Karma Houdini: Bernada gets literally no punishment for her crimes, beyond having a cane snapped. It's infuriating to say the least.
  • Kick the Dog: Bernarda has many. Notably forcibly wiping the makeup off of Angustias, cruelly locking up Maria Josefa and cheering when the town attacks a local girl for aborting the baby she had out of wedlock.

Alternative Title(s): The House Of Bernarda Alba


Example of: