Early on the day of the wedding, the Servant combs and styles the Bride’s hair. The Bride gripes that her mother grew up on a rich, fertile farm, but wasted away after coming to live with her Father. The Servant tries to cheer her up, commenting about how wonderful the wedding will be and how excited the Bride must feel to be with her husband forever. The Bride snaps at the Servant to stop pulling her hair and shut up.
The Bride tells her Servant that marriage is not endless pleasure, but “endless bitterness” (24), and confides that although she loves the Bridegroom, she is nervous because marriage is such a big step. Yet the guests have already committed to attend the wedding, so the Bride must go through with it. The Servant sings a song about wedding wreaths made of flowers, which makes the Bride feel better.
There is a knock on the door: Leonardo has arrived for the wedding party. Although he was invited, the Servant is surprised that he has come so early, but Leonardo explains that he took the shortcut on horseback, and his wife and mother-in-law are taking a cart the long way around. The Servant remarks that he must have driven his horse too hard, and asks whether Leonardo is bringing his son. Leonardo responds with apathy about the horse, and seems to have forgotten entirely that he has a son. He asks whether the Bridegroom has brought the Bride an orange blossom for her corsage, as is customary.
The Bride comes out in her petticoats, and asks why he cares whether she has an orange blossom or not. Leonardo does not answer, but asks the Bride whether he still matters to her. He adds that she may have forced him to marry her cousin, but she can’t disgrace him any further. The Bride retorts that she never forced him, and she can yell as loudly as he can. The Servant intervenes, begging them not to “rake up the past” (28) on her wedding day.
The Bride asks Leonardo to leave but he refuses, ranting about how he must blame someone for his unhappiness since the Bride rejected him. The Bride implies that hearing his voice brings back old feelings, but she is still going to marry the Bridegroom. The Servant forces Leonardo out, and in the distance, voices can be heard singing about the wedding.
The Bride runs away to finish dressing. Three girls enter and, along with the Servant, sing a wedding song. The song is long, and starts out with innocent plant imagery, mentioning jasmine, laurel, and grapefruit trees. As it continues, though, it alludes to more ominous images, referring to the Bride as “dark one” (31) and mentioning “dark red ribbons” (32).
The Bride, the Bridegroom, and all of the guests enter. Everyone compliments the Bride on her beautiful outfit, but she is in a hurry to leave, explaining that she wants to get married so she can be alone with her husband. Irritated, the Bridegroom’s Mother quietly asks the Bride’s Father why he allowed Leonardo and his Wife to attend. He explains that they are family and today is a day of forgiveness, not grudges.
Everyone gets ready to go to the church. Leonardo’s Wife asks emotionally why he wants to go on horseback rather than riding with her in the cart. Leonardo says it’s beneath his dignity to ride in a cart, but his Wife believes he is avoiding her because he no longer loves her. She begins to cry, fearing that he will leave her and she will have to be a single parent like her own mother was.
The Bride’s ambivalence toward marriage in this scene further complicates Lorca’s portrayal of women in the Spanish countryside. She may love the Bridegroom but she rejects the institution of marriage, lamenting that it may start out well but always results in “endless bitterness.” Significantly, she is more concerned about disappointing her guests than her fiancé, and this is, ultimately, what leads her to go through with the wedding despite her misgivings. Despite the tragic qualities of the story, Lorca’s women are hardly romantic or swooning—they pursue marriage out of duty, not passion.
The lengthy song that the guests sing merits scrutiny. The repeated refrain of “Let the bride awaken” downplays the Bride’s individual agency; according to the song, at least, the Bride can only ready herself for her wedding after receiving permission and encouragement from her guests. However, this expected passivity is belied by the Bride’s furious and futile attempts to control her wedding. Not only does she awake by herself, but she also nags at the Servant and matches Leonardo’s anger and venom when he comes to ask about the orange blossom.
Lorca also undercuts the notions of feminine purity that his characters embrace. When the Neighbour first reveals the Bride’s relationship with Leonardo, he implies that Leonardo’s love for the Bride was unreciprocated. However, the exchange between the Bride and Leonardo suggests a rather more substantial history between the two young people.
It is useful to compare Blood Wedding to similar stories. In Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, and other theatrical depictions of forbidden love, the main female character is often young, pure, and innocent. In Blood Wedding, the Bride is neither pure nor innocent, and by the standards of rural Spain in the early twentieth century, she is relatively old to be getting married. By adding these dimensions to the character, Lorca renders his tragedy all the more significant, because the victim is a quirky, realistic character rather than an ideal.
Such a decision also precludes any interpretation of Blood Wedding as a straightforward allegory. The characters do not represent ideals or segments of society. Despite its vague setting and anonymous characters, the tragedy in Lorca’s play is not didactic, but rather reflective of real life, in which violence often erupts for no reason, and events do not result in a pat moral or lesson.