In The House of Bernarda Alba, the totalitarian styled restriction and censorship that Bernarda submits her household to give way to a number of underlying themes and conflicts. The degree of freedomthat is denied to Bernarda’s daughters is evident from the very beginning, and immediately promises to become an issue later in the story. This along with Bernarda’s obsession with maintaining herdesired appearance all lead back to what can be attributed to as society’s expectation of women and their sex roles. Lorca paints a clear picture of the times and illustrates the perception of womenthrough the eyes of women only.
The beginning of this play starts with the funeral of Bernardo Alba’s husband, and the head of the house. Poncia, along with the other maids talk bad about Bernarda asher role in the family becomes clearer. As Stanley Brandes points out, the man is usually charged with the responsibility of establishing a familiy’s status financially and socially through means ofhonor and appearance. Bernarda assumes these vacant positions as a woman, and what is normal and accepted in society by men become negative aspects in regards to Bernarda. Bernarda’s wish to keep thewomen in her household secluded from society along with the social exclusiveness that she perpetuates supports Stanley Brandes idea of the moral dichotomy between the sexes. In assuming the role ofhead of the house, Bernarda’s perception of women becomes that of a man’s. For looking at men, which represent freedom in a sense for the daughters of the household, Bernarda physically punishes them.This idea links back to what Stanley Brandes points out in Metaphors of Masculinity as “the evil eye”. Throughout the play the daughters run repeatedly to the windows to observe the outside world: thecrowd departing the funeral, the men going to work in the fields, and the arrivals and departures of Pepe el Romano. Poncia, whom operates as the voice of reason, comments on how “Your daughters act...
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