La casa de Bernarda Alba
The Pennsylvania State University
THE theater of Federico García Lorca has been approached from many directions, so rich in topoi and imagery is its expression.1 Among the most evident concerns in many of his plays is the relationship between men and women, which is seen to result either in the death of the body or in that of the spirit; in some plays both occur in what I have termed “blood spilt and unspilt,”2 with most men dying and the women in their circle remaining in life to mourn their passing.
Lorca had a deep-seated affiliation with women from his earliest upbringing, and he sets out to uphold their cause in many of his serious plays, from Mariana Pineda and Doña Rosita la soltera (Doña Rosita the spinster), to the three rural tragedies that marked his final years as a playwright and as a man. In these works women are the focal point of the action, be they active participants or passive figures in the evolution of the circumstances of their lives. He identifies with what he sees as their plight, the result of society's curtailment of women's rights on many levels.
As to men, Lorca's stance is more ambivalent. Perhaps his attitude is founded on a personal value system that perceived the great inequity of a society that traditionally has given higher status and freedom of expression to men than to women. Furthermore, it could be argued that his point of view stemmed from displeasure over society's acceptance of men in heterosexual bondings, often with attendant infidelities and selfishness, and its rejection of those with alternate lifestyles. Early on, Lorca became aware of his own homosexuality and felt uncomfortable with the knowledge that he was “different”—a very difficult state of life in a Spain that, even in the rapidly changing mores of turn-of-the-century Europe, retained traditional codes of moral and social conduct3 and condemned homosexual unions. But Lorca did not express himself directly on the sub136