The House of Bernarda Alba


  • Heat—in this case, often mentioned and referred to at the height of Bernarda's oppression and fury. Therefore, a symbol for Bernarda's dominating nature. Heat is also another reference to sexual desire represented by the fans and lemonade.
  • Black and white—The common Western connotations. Black represents everything bad (death, mourn, oppression, being closed in...) while white represents all things good (the truth, life, freedom). Black is mainly associated with Bernarda and all the daughters who wear black throughout the play, except Adela. As said above, in her craziness she says what all the girls won't dare to say. Another possible interpretation is that white represents sterility or purity, as in the "pure" and "immaculate" appearance of Bernarda's home, and black represents oppression.
  • Green—Represents jealousy in most western literature, e.g., as between the sisters as they find Adela is the lover of Pepe, and over Angustias' engagement with Pepe. The passionate personality of Adela as well. In addition, for Lorca, green represents death in much of his poetry. Adela was the only one to wear a green dress in the play and later was the only one to die. Green also represents lust/pure sexual desire in Hispanic culture.
  • The fan—Adela gives Bernarda a round fan decorated with red and green flowers: a symbol of Adela's sexual frustration. The red represents passion while the green represents lust.
  • The cane—Symbolizes the power and sovereignty of Bernarda over her daughters. Adela finally breaks it near the end of the play.
  • Some of the characters' names:
    • Amelia— From Latin and Old German for "industrious": Hebrew: "labor of God"
    • Martirio—"martyrdom"
    • Angustias—"anguishes" or "torments"
    • Adela—from the Spanish verb "adelantar" meaning "to go forward" or "to overtake". Adela is the character in the story fighting to move forward in life and overcome the oppression she is faced with.
    • Magdalena—The Spanish name of Mary Magdalene. Also believed by some to be the woman in the bible who was an adulteress who was saved by Jesus.
    • María Josefa—From the names of Jesus' parents, Mary and Joseph
    • Prudencia—Suggesting the virtue of prudence
    • La Poncia—it may be a reference to Pontius Pilate, as she simply observes and does nothing to stop the unfairness in the household

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