The House of Bernarda Alba: Motif Tracking – Marriage


























Marriage is important in the play because it is the marriage of Angustias and Pepe that propels that plot forward by provoking Adela’s jealousy. Lorca has principally used marriage to criticize the society of his time by contrasting what marriage should be, a union of two people who love each other, with what it has become in rural Spain in the 1930s: a public display, a financial exchange or an escape from one oppressive house into another.








She’s the only one who knows the true story of her father and how he got his land. Her father killed his first wife’s husband in Cuba so he could marry her himself. There, here, he deserted her and ran off with another woman who had a daughter. And then he had an affair with this girl, Adelaida’s mother, and he married her after his second wife went mad and died.

A clear example of how marriage is no longer special: now everybody marries just for the wealth or the land.


A wedding lasted ten days and wagging tongues were not the fashion. Today, there is more finesse, brides wear white veils like in the big cities and we drink bottled wine.

Again we can see that weddings have changed. In the past there seemed to be more celebration, more happiness while today there is more gossip.


Ironically the weddings look better – hence the white veils – but they have lost the vitality that they had before.



Pepe el Romano wants to marry Angustias. He was circling the house last night, and I think he’ll send someone to ask for her hand soon.

This reveals how men were the ones in control in the patriarchal society of the time. In this image we can almost literally see the picture of knight on horseback coming to rescue a helpless maiden. The women have no control, no self determination, they just have to wait until their hand is asked for.



If he wanted Angustias for herself, Angustias as a woman, I would be glad. But he wants her money.


In this family we know she’s old in poor health and has always had the least to offer of any of us. After all, if she looked like a scarecrow when she was twenty, what can she look like now that she’s forty?


She is the only rich one in the house.
They’re coming after her

Here it becomes clear that Pepe is only planning to marry Angustias because of her wealth and land.




The best thing she could do is present it to Angustias to wear when she marries Pepe el Romano.

Angustias’s dress can portray herself to Pepe in many ways. A nicer dress to Pepe will mean she will more likely get married.

It is all because of beauty.


I don’t want you to get anything of mine. Not my rings nor my black moiré dress. Because none of you is going to get married! Not one!

I escaped because I wanted to get married, because I want to get married to a beautiful man from the edge of the sea.

Bernada’s mother is weak and powerless. She is a widow and is mostly controlled by her daughter and her granddaughters. However she is insightful and can see the truth – none of the daughters is going to get married and she foresees the barrenness and sterility of the house.


Her desire to marry a man from the edge of the sea suggests her desire for freedom but once again reveals how women seem only to be able to conceive of escaping through marriage to a man.



Anyway its best for single women like you to know that fifteen days after the wedding, a man leaves the bed for the table, then the table for the tavern.

Once again this makes it clear that men do not marry for love. It also makes it clear that there are very different roles assigned to men and women – the man is allowed, even expected, to go out drinking with his friends while the implication is that the woman must stay at home



Why didn’t you let her marry Enrique Humanas? Why did you send him a message not to come to her window, the very day he was coming?


My blood will never mix with that of the Humanas family – not as long as I live! His father was a field hand.

When Bernada says “his father was a field hand” it reveals how concerned she is with maintaining her position in society and not allowing her daughters to marry beneath themselves. It also makes it clear how vicious Bernarda is and how concern for public appearance can have destructive effects on the individual as it is presumably (at least partly) the disappointment suffered with Enrique Humanas that has turned Martirio into the bitter person she is.



Engagement rings are supposed to be diamonds.

The fact that the ring is not a diamond (for strength) but a pearl (for tears) foreshadows the unhappy results of Pepe and Angustias’ marriage.