Reviewing The Play House Of Bernarda English Literature Essay

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The oppression of the ambitions of Adela and Antigone in the plays The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca and Antigone by Jean Anouilh, primarily evoke sympathy along with empathy and admiration. The injustice that Antigone and Adela face as they are victimized is the main way in which Anouilh and Lorca achieve this. Both plays have a tyrannical authoritarian who imposes themselves excessively. The playwrights employ the use of language techniques such as characterization and imagery to depict Antigone and Adela as the victims and Bernarda Alba and Creon as the authoritative tyrants.

The character of Bernarda Alba imposes herself too greatly as her vice-like grip upon the daughters' lives frustrates Adela, ultimately triggering her demise; it is through this characterization that Lorca shocks and rouses compassion. Imagery of poison is ubiquitous and runs powerfully throughout the play symbolizing the way in which oppression eats away at Bernarda's daughters from the inside [1] . Bernarda, after discovering Martirio has taken her sister's picture, hits her and says, "I should stab you dead! You're poison" [2] . This violent statement shocks the reader since it is from a mother to her daughter and also highlights the lack of a maternal bond. Although it is not directed at Adela, the reader is able to fathom the harsh environment she is living in. The playwright depicts Bernarda as an inhuman character through the image her unblinking "eyes always open… watch[ing her daughters] without closing them" [3] . This is a simple yet chilling image that illustrates Bernarda's pervasive and intrusive role in her daughters' lives. Lorca exemplifies Bernarda's vigilance when Adela is caught having an illicit affair with Pepe el Romano, thus reinforcing the oppression of her ambitions of love and independence. Additionally, frequent use of short syntax, imperatives, exclamation marks and monosyllabic language creates a harsh interrogative tone as seen through, "Answer me!... Search their rooms! Look in their beds" [4] when Angustias' picture is stolen [5] . This is a simple concept to grasp as the reader can easily relate to it as they would have had similar experiences with authority figures in their lives. Through these techniques Lorca is able to induce a stronger form of sympathy in the reader, empathy, because he creates scenarios that the reader has probably experienced themselves and know what it feels like to be reprimanded. However, the fact that this language is directed at grown women, fully capable of looking after themselves, awes the reader since the scene described above is associated with a mother disciplining her child. This scene is pivotal in the play as it elucidates the reasons behind Adela's frustrations; this knowledge allows the reader to sympathize even more with her, hence the empathy.

Similarly, Creon's tyrannical reign over Thebes and his banal interest in social and political order conflicts with Antigone's ambitions. Antigone's moral righteousness, displayed through her determination to bury her brother, incites admiration. This sentiment is amplified by the stark contrast between her and Creon's dogged duty to the state over his familial duty as an uncle. At the start of the play itself, Anouilh foreshadows Antigone's death and portrays her helplessness through the use of stage directions and the chorus. Antigone's "hands [are] clasped round her knees" [6] whilst "the three guards sit on the steps, in a small group, playing cards" [7] . The roman-catholic audience at the time of the original performances of the play would be able to identify this scene as the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Antigone is sitting in a childlike manner, timid and scared; the reader fears the worst for her. Creon's order to kill Antigone evokes even more sympathy for her as she is truly and helpless and at the mercy of a loved one. The fact that she feels compelled to immure herself incites grief as the reader can truly comprehend the extent of her suffering.

The characters of Antigone and Adela are both inhumanely physically oppressed by authority figures in their respective families. This elicits empathy because both characters' ambitions are oppressed from within their family, leaving them with no one to turn to and lack of hope. Through this, both playwrights highlight the importance of the family, particularly the role of the dominant family figures. Bernarda Alba and Creon are in the position of power in their respective plays; however, their tyrannical regime over the rest of their family shows how the abuse of power can have dire consequences as both protagonists commit suicide. Antigone, in comparison to Adela, is the more admirable character since her cause is selfless and Anouilh clearly describes her virtues of maturity and leadership despite her age through dialogue such as, "Nanny you shouldn't scold" [8] and "Nanny, don't cry any more" [9] . This reversal of roles shows Antigone's strong resolve, despite having no one to turn to herself; she is able to support others. In contrast, Adela's frequent display of frustration may not be as well received by readers as she does not exude the selflessness Antigone does. Furthermore, her affair with Pepe el Romano comes at the cost of her sister's marriage and when confronted by Martirio, Adela's spiteful and accusatory language in, "an evil tongue never stops inventing lies" [10] relegates her in the eyes of the reader.

In conclusion, both playwrights lucratively evoke sympathy, empathy and admiration in the reader through the use of language techniques to represent the oppression of Adela's and Antigone's ambitions. The plays also serve as a reminder to those who are perched higher in the social ladder, be it within a family, a community or a country (in the case of the world's leaders) to exercise control over themselves and not become tyrants. Despite their flaws, Bernarda Alba and Creon do redeem themselves at times. For example Bernarda says "it was my fault. A woman can't aim" [11] when Pepe is said to have gotten away. Lorca could be telling us that Bernarda's actions do not live up to her violent language and behind the authoritative veil she may not be as heartless as we believe her to be. Another interpretation is that even she is being oppressed by society's values as she believes that men are more capable than women [12] . Thus, the question that arises from this is: to what extent is Bernarda Alba a victim of her own oppression?