Abstract for Schvoong
The House of Bernarda Alba (Las Casa de Bernarda Alba)
A Drama about Women in the Villages of Spain
By Federico Garcia Lorca
3 Act Play
Bernarda Alba, 60, tyrannical and domineering, rules over a house of women in 1930's Andalusia. There are her mother, 80 and mentally unstable, her five daughters ranging from Angustias, 39 to Adela, 20 and three elderly maidservants. No daughter is married and only Angustias, child of her first husband, has money for a dowry.
On the day of her husband's funeral, her declaration of eight years of mourning and confinement to the house, full of brooding tensions and heat, causes consternation, anger and sorrow among the daughters. They are to embroider linens for their hope chests, never going out. But Angustias is different, smug and rebellious, knowing that a young man will now be asking to marry her. Pepe el Romano is 25 to her 39 and she wants him. She argues fiercely with her mother, her sisters are aware of what will happen, seeming to accept it. Not Adela, who is distraught. She loves Pepe.
What all the women want is to be loved and married with a home of their own. A perceived freedom. This is stated clearly by the old grandmother, whose 'ramblings' cause Bernarda to have her locked away - again.
The daughters obey and some days later are sitting embroidering, as ordered. It is revealed that Pepe has been visiting Angustias' window at night. The heat in the house is magnified by the sexual innuendo of their discussions, which expands into explicit areas when Poncia the maid tells of her own marital exploits. Only Adela is not present. The sisters remark on how sickly she has been of late.
Poncia knows that Adela and Pepe are lovers. She warns the girl, saying that Angustias is old and sickly and may die with her first child, so Adela can then have Pepe. Quietly they work on, until Angustias rushes furiously back into the room. Someone has taken her picture of Pepe from under her pillow. Bernarda, hearing the commotion, enters and demands to be told which sister is the thief.
Strangely, it is Martirio, 24, who has hidden it in her bed, a joke on her sister, she says. Adela is enraged with jealousy and even tells Angustias that Pepe only wants her for her money. Bernarda, after attempting to hit Martirio, screeches at them to stop and orders them away. She is obeyed as usual.
Now Poncia tries to warn Bernarda that Pepe is the cause of all the troubles in the house and must be married quickly. Bernarda refuses to accept this. Poncia tells her he is really Adela's sweetheart and asks
that they marry. Again Bernarda dismisses her suggestion. Angustias returns and in talking, the three realize that Pepe has been leaving Angustias at one, but not leaving the house till four in the morning. It is Adela he is with, as only Poncia knows. Shouting and runnning outside put an end to the matter.
It seems a young girl in the village has been discovered to have given birth out of wedlock, killed and buried the child and now the people are baying for her blood. All the women go to see and Adela wants her to be saved, while Bernarda and Martirio want to see her punished for her sin.
Only three days remain till Angustias and Pepe are to marry. She expresses her worry to Bernarda that he seems distracted. Her mother advises her to ask him nothing and say less, and to never let him see her cry. Angustias is unhappy but cannot fathom why. Later, the women have a quiet evening, quite peaceful and Pepe is not expected, being away on a trip. Alone with Poncia, Bernarda tries to engage her in discussion regarding Poncia's warnings, but the maid refuses to be drawn. As people begin to settle for the night, Adela slips out to the corral.
But Martirio has seen her and calls her mother to witness. Pepe is waiting with his horse to run away with Adela. Bernarda calls for the gun and rushes to try to shoot him, but he escapes. Martirio suggests that he is now dead and a dist Adela looks herself in her room. Bernarda thinks this is all for the best, but a sound is heard and she, Poncia and Martirio break down the door. Adela has killed herself. Bernarda's order on the matter, as the curtain comes down, is that it is to be made known that the youngest daughter of Bernarda Alba died a virgin.