Garcia Lorca Poet Of The Anda Essay

Garcia Lorca: Poet Of The Anda Essay, Research Paper Garcia Lorca Poet of the Andalusians Federico Garcia Lorca is one of Spain s most famous artists. He played a large

Garcia Lorca: Poet Of The Anda Essay, Research Paper

Garcia Lorca

Poet of the Andalusians

Federico Garcia Lorca is one of Spain s most famous artists. He played a large

role in transforming the Spanish theatre of the twentieth century. In addition to his

original works for the theatres in Barcelona and Madrid, the traveling university theatre he

directed, La Baracca, brought classic Spanish dramas to audiences throughout rural Spain.

Before his execution by the Fascists in 1936, he had amassed a large body of work. His

last three plays established Lorca s international reputation as a playwright.

Born in a small town near the city of Granada in Southern Spain in the Andalusian

Mountains, he was deeply influenced by the Gypsy and Arabic culture there. His father

was a well-to-do farmer, his mother a highly educated school teacher. From the beginning

it was she who nurtured his musical and poetic talents.(Honig 2) He left home for the

University of Granada at the age of sixteen to earn a degree in law. A mediocre student,

he was frustrated by subjects he did not immediately grasp. He cut many classes,

preferring instead to seek the company of literary men, write verse into the wee hours of

the morning, and play piano in night clubs for hours on end.(Stainton)

While in Granada he met Fernando de los Rios, a professor at the university and an

important political figure, who became his mentor. Following Rios advice, Lorca left

Granada for Madrid in 1919. He lived at the Residencia de Estudantes, a Spanish version

of Oxford, where the atmosphere was serious and scholarly.(Duran 3) It was here he

became close friends with the famous Salvador Dali, Gerardo Diego, a poet, and Luis

Bunuel, who would later become a great film director.

In 1929 he traveled to New York, where Fernando de los Rios arranged for him to

attend Columbia University for a short while. He was in the throes of a mysterious

emotional crisis, the details of which have never been disclosed. He returned to Spain in

1931 much changed by his experiences in America. He had a passionate interest in

American film and jazz, and a fascination with the women in New York, who were so

different from those in Spain.(Duran 9) His stay in America seems to be an important

turning point in his metamorphosis from poet to playwright. Upon his return, he turned

his attention to the stage, founding the theatre troupe La Barraca. He traveled overseas

again to produce classic Spanish plays in Montevideo and Buenos Aires. In 1934 he

returned to Madrid, where he concentrated on playwrighting. These next few years before

his death are considered his mature period, when he wrote his rural dramas, Bodas de

Sangre, Yerma, and La Casa de Bernarda Alba. These are concentrated on a single

theme; the suffering and the frustration of the Spanish woman.

Blood Wedding

The crisis of this play is the contrast between the two contradictory principle lines

of action. One is towards the wedding of the bride and bridegroom; a socially sanctioned

union between a man and a woman necessary for the accumulation of land and property,

and for carrying on the family blood line. The second line of action is toward the

consummation of an illicit love affair between the bride and Leonardo, which pays no heed

to material restrictions or social conditions. (Anderson 91) The bride s struggle between

duty to her family and her responsibility to marry, and her desire for Leonardo become the

focal point of dramatic interest as the movement of the lines of action come to a climax in

the second act.

The mother the second focal point of dramatic interest. She has lost both her

husband and her son in a knife fight with the Felix clan. She has a horror of weapons, and

feels that the murderers have not been punished enough for their crimes. The mother

consents to her son s wedding the sake of his happiness, despite a feeling of apprehension

towards the bride. Her hatred towards the rival clan and her suspicion of the bride

establish a sense of impending tragedy in the first moments of the play.(Anderson 92)

Each of the three scenes in act one reveals the play s tragic potential. The first

scene is concerned with the mother s reservation towards her son s wedding, in contrast

to his optimism and eagerness to be wed. The second scene takes place in Leonardo s

house. He grows sullen when he learns of the bride s engagement, and becomes hostile

towards his mother-in-law when she asks him where he s just come from. He finally

erupts in anger and storms out of the house, waking the baby. In the third scene the

mother and bridegroom and the father and bride all come together and the marriage is

arranged. In the last half of the scene only the bride and the servant are onstage. The

bride becomes violent when the servant asks her about her wedding gift, she bites and

shoves and yells, and the servant forces her to admit that Leonardo has been visiting her

secretly at night.

With these conflicts set into place, the second act brings us to the wedding day.

Lorca s primary emphasis is on the line of action towards the completion of the wedding.

Underneath this he builds the potential contradictory movement of action until it

overwhelms the main momentum and replaces it with a new and doomed movement

towards the union of the two lovers. (Anderson 95) During the wedding reception the

bride and Leonardo escape together, his wife sees them, on his horse, with their arms

around each other, they rode off like a shooting star! (Three Tragedies 77)

After discovering that her fears have about the wedding have come true, the

mother finds herself torn between the fear of losing her son to the same Felix clan, and the

importance of maintaining her family s honor by revenge. Go! After them! No! she

cries, Don t go. These people kill quickly and well…but yes, run, and I ll follow. The

hour of blood has come again. (Three Tragedies 77-8)

In the final act, there is a shift from prose to verse. Three woodcutters enter, a

traditional tragic chorus. A beggar woman appears, Death in disguise, calling for the

moon to illuminate the woods so that she might seek her victims. For a moment the scene

focuses on the lovers. Accepting the tragedy and inevitability of their situation, they

blame not themselves but the blind lusts which the earth has created in them.(Honig 158)

Suddenly there are two shrieks, the rivals have killed each other, and the predestined

tragedy has finally been played out.

The three women brought together in the final scene symbolically become one.

The scene depicts a symbolic resolution; they mourn together, united in their grief, but are

isolated by their own individual experiences. These three women; a small representational

group of the female roles of mother, daughter, lover, bride, wife, embody the invariable

destinies of all women. Without their husband, fathers, and sons, they are

nothing.(Anderson 101)


Yerma is the second play in Lorca s trilogy. His statements about Yerma indicate

that he was seeking a purity of form about his conception of tragedy.

Yerma is a tragedy. From the beginning the audience will recognize that

something formidable is going to happen. . . .What does happen? Yerma has no

plot. Yerma is a character who develops over the course of the six scenes that

compromise the drama. As befits a tragedy, I have included in Yerma a chorus

that comments on the theme of the tragedy, which is its real substance. Notice that

I have said theme, I repeat that Yerma has no plot. At several points the audience

will think that there is one, but it will be a slight illusion. . . .

Unlike the heroines in the other two plays, Yerma s tragedy is not in discord with

her society. She has accepted her arranged marriage with a sense of duty which is just as

strong as her desire to have children. (Anderson 106) Her happiness, therefore, lies solely

in the hands of her husband Juan; a pale barren man who is blind to his wife s anguish.

The tragic contradiction of this play is exemplified in one single character and her heroic

struggle against the loss of her sense of self.

The first act is comprised of her encounters with three characters, each suggesting

a new way of seeing the tragedy of Yerma s childless marriage. The first, Maria, is a

young pregnant woman who s innocence contrasts Yerma s knowledge. The second,

Victor, is the handsome shepherd who is clearly Yerma s natural mate. There are

allusions to a potential harmony between them, the illusory plot Lorca mentioned. The

third character is the old woman who has borne fourteen children. Her natural fertility, in

opposition to Yerma s barren state gives her a natural ease with life in general.

The choral scene in the second act is full of music and color as six washerwomen

sing and gossip by a mountain stream. Unlike the fantastic forest scene in Blood Wedding,

this choral scene is entirely plausible. They speculate about Yerma s unhappiness, and her

attraction to Victor. They also introduce the allegations of blame, which remain

unresolved, for Yerma and Juan s continue sterility.(Honig 174)

Five years pass between acts one and two. Yerma has now been married for seven

years. She has grown increasingly frustrated and desperate in her childless marriage, and

feels humbled by the fertility all around her. Her character evolves to its darkest phase in

act three when Yerma visits the sorceress. She spends the night in fertility rituals, and

when the sorceress prays over her and tells her to seek refuge in her husband s arms,

Yerma reveals that there is no intimacy in their marriage; she is repelled by sex yet wishes

that she might feel sexual passion if it will give her children. Juan, however, does not

suffer from their failure to conceive, and Yerma resents his peace: The trouble is he

doesn t want children!…I can tell that in a glance, and, since he doesn t want them, he

doesn t give them to me, and yet he s my only salvation. By honor and by blood. My

only salvation. (Three Tragedies 140)

There is no solution to Yerma s childlessness. When the old woman offers her son

to Yerma, she is outraged at the depravity of such a suggestion. Do you imagine I could

know another man? Where would that leave my honor?…On the road I ve started I ll

stay…Mine is a sorrow already beyond the flesh. (Three Tragedies 151) Yerma s

culminating act of strangling Juan with her bare hands represents her own suicide, and the

death of the child she will never have. But this act also releases her from her suffering.

Barren, barren, but certain: now I really know for sure… Now I ll sleep without startling

myself awake, anxious to see if I feel in my blood another new blood. My body, dry

forever! (Three Tragedies 153)

The House of Bernarda Alba

The House of Bernarda Alba is Lorca s most profound contribution to the stage.

Lorca departs from his usual lyricism and choruses found in his first two tragedies and

concentrates on realism, referring to the play as a photographic document .(Three

Tragedies 156) He is said to have exclaimed after a reading of the manuscript to a group

of friends, Not a single drop of poetry! Reality! Realism!

The title refers to Bernarda Alba s house, which is the embodiment of confinement

that affects the characters throughout the action of the play. Bernarda s dominance over

her five daughters, mother and servants reaches an extreme after the death of her husband,

and builds steadily over the course of three acts. As a matriarch, she guards the honor of

her family like a hawk, always aware that her neighbors eyes are on them. She declares,

For the eight years of mourning, not a breath of air will get in this house from the

street…That s what happened in my father s house–and in my grandfather s house.

The girls all yearn for one man, Pepe el Romano, the eldest daughter s fianc and

the youngest daughter s secret lover. Like in Blood Wedding and Yerma an arranged

marriage and its distortion of values and relationships is the plot device Lorca uses to

propel the action towards catastrophe.(Anderson 122) As the youngest and most

attractive daughter, Adela suffers the most from her confinement; she is driven by an

erotic energy that is focused solely on one man, who will marry her sister for her wealth.

She clashes with the household servant La Poncia and with her sister Martirio who both

try to keep her from continuing her affair. Unlike the lover s rapturous flight in Blood

Wedding, Adela s rebellion is far bleaker. Everybody in the village against me, burning

me with their fiery fingers, pursued by those who claim they re decent, and I ll wear,

before them all, the crown of thorns that belong to the mistress of a married man. (Three

Tragedies 208) The suffering Adela says she would endure in exchange for her freedom

is the measure of the unendurable harshness of her mother s authority.

When the grandmother, Maria Josefa, first appears, her presence and words evoke

a distorted image of the future of her five granddaughters. She has dressed herself as a

bride, I don t want to see these single women longing for marriage, turning their hearts to

dust; and I want to go to my hometown. Bernarda, I want a man to get married to and be

happy with! (Three Tragedies 175-6) Her message is too much for the daughters to bear,

they work together to return her to her locked room. Maria Josefa appears again in the

last moments of the final act. No longer the bride, she carries a lamb whom she speaks to

as if it were a child, a grotesque parody of motherhood. She sings a strange song, evoking

the simple values of family, community, and freedom. Maria Josefa is the chorus in this

play, her visions of sterility and death are the most accurate images in the play, she is the

voice of truth.

The development of act three follows the pattern established in acts one and two:

each scene begins serenely as the surface calm is undermined at a relentless pace(Anderson

126), each act ends with a high level of dramatic tension, the daughters forcing their

grandmother into her room in act one, and in the second all the household women–with

the exception of Adela- joining in the violent persecution of a woman who has killed her

illegitimate child. At the end of act three Adela and Martirio have a violent confrontation.

They wake the household, and Bernarda rushes outside with a gun after El Romano.

Fueled by jealousy, Martirio tells Adela that he has been killed, in despair she hangs

herself. Bernarda reasserts her dominance which she hopes with restore a superficial calm

in the house. Tears when you re alone! Bernarda commands, We ll drown ourselves in

a sea of mourning. She, the youngest daughter of Bernarda Alba, died a virgin…Silence,

silence, I said. Silence! (Three Tragedies 211)

The facts concerning Lorca s death are scant. Shortly after completing his

manuscript of The House of Bernarda Alba, Lorca returned to Granada to be with his

family. Lorca s brother-in-law, Manuel Montesinos, was the socialist mayor of

Granada.(Anderson 21) When the city fell to the hands of the fascists, he was executed.

Lorca s family urged him to seek refuge after he had been threatened by two armed men

looking for reds . Nevertheless, the fascist police arrested him at his hiding place, and

held him in a makeshift prison. On the morning of August 18 or 19, 1936, Lorca was

executed on a roadside ravine, and buried in an anonymous mass gravesite.(Stainton 455)

Chances are that fewer people would have heard Lorca s voice outside of Spain as early as

they did, had it not been for his politically motivated death.

Lorca s roots are planted firmly in the Spanish past, his sensitivity allowed him to

bring the past alive. For the Spaniards of his generation he was the best introduction to

the twentieth century, for us he is the introduction to the eternal Spain.(Duran 15) As his

posthumous fame increases, his political martyrdom is no longer dominates his reputation

as a writer. His plays are now performed almost worldwide, he is required reading in

hundreds of college courses. Perhaps the best sign of his talent and influence is inclusion

as one of the top five Spanish writers of his time.(Honig 215)


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Brockett, Oscar G. and Hildy, Franklin J. History of the Theatre. 8th ed. Massachusetts:

Allyn and Bacon. 1968.

Duran, Manuel, ed. Lorca, A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall,


Field, Bradford S. Jr., Gilbert, Miriam, and Klaus, Carl H., eds. Stages of Drama. New

York: Bedford St. Martin s, 1999. 739-741.

Honig, Edwin. Garcia Lorca. New York: New Directions, 1944.

Lorca, Garcia. Three Tragedies. New York: New Directions, 1955.

Stainton, Leslie. Lorca, A Dream of Life. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.