The House of Bernarda Alba

Themes

  • Tragedy – Adela rebels against the tyranny of her mother and pays with her life. There is also tragic irony in the fact that her suicide is out of grief for the death of Pepe, who is then revealed to be alive.
  • Oppression of women – Bernarda represents the view that 'a woman's place is home'.
  • Tradition – Bernarda is desperate to uphold tradition, both in her observance of the funeral rites, and the differences between men and women.
  • Class prejudice – Bernarda uses money as a means of making herself superior, and views the villagers as unworthy of her daughters.
  • Reputation – Bernarda is preoccupied with the reputation of her family and is horrified by the idea of scandal and gossip, shown at the end of the play, when she demands it be known that Adela died a virgin.
  • Authoritarianism – Bernarda exercises a tyrant's will over the household.
  • Beauty — Beauty becomes corrupted, Lorca suggests, in an environment where people are not permitted to pursue their desires and passions. Pepe el Romano is passionate for Adela, but is bound by economic necessity to court Angustias instead. "If he were coming because of Angustias' looks, for Angustias as a woman, I'd be glad too," Magdalena comments, "but he's coming for her money. Even though Angustias is our sister, we're her family here, and we know she's old and sickly."

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