The House Of Bernarda Alba: A Contribution Of Non-Verbal Elemants To The Play Essay, Research Paper
The non-verbal elements of a play are crucial in setting the mood and tone of the production. These features subtly provide the audience with important information about the setting of the play and gives insight into the backgrounds and personalities of the characters. The House of Bernarda Alba by Frederica Garc?a Lorca is full of vivid nonverbal elements that are essential in portraying exactly what life was like within this household.
Colour is very important in The House of Bernarda Alba. The walls of the house are all painted white. This is characteristic of homes in Spain, since white reflects the scorching sun. There is, however, a deeper meaning than the simple practicality of white in the play. White is symbolic of purity and cleanliness along with lifelessness, pallor and emptiness. All of these features are descriptive of the life the daughters of Bernarda are forced to lead. In fact, the family name Alba means white. This colour is shown to be in sharp contrast to the black dress of the women in mourning as they enter the stage. The white of the walls serves to exaggerate the black of their dresses. Black is indeed the colour of death and may not only indicate the death that has occurred but also allude to the death that is to come. By all wearing the same lifeless colour the women also lose their individuality. This is very important in this work since Bernarda does not want her girls to be noticed and refuses to let them show their true colours. They appear as nuns, not as eligible young women. It is also interesting to note that black is the colour representative of the fascist regime of the time. Not only was fascism the political situation but it was also alive and well in Bernarda?s home, with her as the ultimate dictator. Her cane is also symbolic of her role as the ruler of the home.
The colour in the play makes a dramatic twist when Adela removes her black clothes of mourning and opts to wear her green birthday dress into the yard to feed the chickens. Green is often regarded as being a symbol of Earth, youth and fertility. The green of the dress really is a symbol for Adela herself. Adela wants nothing more than to be free from her mother?s rule and to live the rest of her young life as she wishes. She is full of the vigor of youth and is of the perfect age to marry and begin her own family. These features pour from the young woman as she wears this dress while exclaiming to the chickens ?look at me!? The vibrant green colour is a very sharp contrast to black signifying how she cares not for the restrictions imposed on her by her mother.
The decorations of the room in which much of the action takes place are very important. The arched doorways are described as having jute curtains tied back with tassels and ruffles. The harsh jute fabric is symbolic of the male presence in the home residing within the ruling hand of Bernarda. The tassels and ruffles however show the distinct femininity that is also present and is begging to be noticed. On the walls there are pictures of nymphs and legendary kings. These are
seemingly out of place in such surroundings. They do, however, depict imaginary places, a dreamland of sorts. The daughters of Bernarda can easily identify with these pictures since all they have is their unfulfilled dreams. They also serve to concrete the image of innocence within the play. The kings serve as an image of the golden age of control with one high and mighty ruler. Bernarda is indeed the ?King? of her castle and these pictures are representative of this. Nymphs are often characterized as being scantily clad and very sexual in nature. Therefore, the nymphs presented to us here are representational of the sexual energy present in the women of the home. Their attire also displays a sharp contrast to the black, conservative dress of the characters.
The sexual tension in the play is very apparent and is manifested by the stallion locked up in his stall. He pounds on the wall of the house as he tries to break out. In a way, Bernarda?s daughters are doing the same thing, pounding on the walls of their home, their prison, trying to escape. They also keep all of their sexual desires pent up just like the stallion in his stall. The stallion is released into the yard to ?cool down? but the mares are left tied up in the heat. This persistent heat is also very important because the young women are literally smothering in the house and are never allowed to leave the home to cool off.
The most important symbol in the play is that of the tolling of the bells. Before any player appears on the stage the bells sounding after the funeral welcome the audience. This sets the somber tone of the entire drama. They also foreshadow the death that is to come. At the end of the play Bernarda?s comment that the bells will ring twice for Adela who died a virgin illustrates how important the bells really are in the town.
The House of Bernarda Alba is full of nonverbal imagery that really does set the stage for the play. Without the creative genius of Lorca, who entered these pivotal elements, the play would not have been as effective. It really is important to read a little deeper or watch a little more closely to gain true appreciation for a work such as this.
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