Henrik Isben’s A Doll’s House and Frederico Garcia’s The House of Bernarda Alba
The House of Bernarda Alba and A Doll’s House, by Frederico Garcia Lorca and Henrik Ibsen respectively, are two similar plays written at different times. In 1964, Frederico’s The House of Bernarda Alba debuted in Madrid Spain, thirty-one years after it’s birth in 1933. It pioneered the style of surrealistic imagery, popular folklore and was written in prose. A Doll’s House was published in 1879 and appeared on stage that year in Copenhagen. Originally written in Dano-Norwegian known as Riksmal, its read in translation almost exclusively. It was released with a cast of male and female performers, in opposition to The House of Bernarda Alba with only female characters. Although these stories were written in two completely separate eras, they depict similar scenarios. They each reveal a dominant character pitted against a female character who is rebellious to the traditional social order. In A Doll’s House, Torvald is the dominating character manipulating his wife and treating her like a doll. In The House of Bernarda Alba, Bernarda is the dominating figure in charge of bossing her daughters around, and, more importantly causing the downfall of her youngest daughter Adela. Thus, both stories have a single figure in charge of pushing the less powerful woman or women around. In addition, both stories show broken relationships, and the downfall of main characters. However, the underlying theme, which ties these two plays together, is pride. Pride is both the root of social order and the cause of downfalls. It breaks relationships and splits families in one case, while restoring life in the other. Pride is an ever-present force in both of the plays, The House of Bernarda Alba and A Doll’s House, affecting the details, characters, and even the outcomes.
Pride is a strong force in both plays, unyielding and antagonizing, it serves as a cast-iron vice from which the main characters cannot escape. It’s the force that drives Adela onward in her battle for freedom and portrays her as a woman ahead of her time. Pride is the opposing force against Adela. Bernarda is a forceful dictator and places the families pride ahead of happiness. Bernarda states “I keep watch; so people won’t spit when they pass our door” (Garcia Lorca 182). Adela is confined to dictatorship and rules. Pride a…
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…has then permanently ended their marriage. Torvald pleas for forgiveness, but separation is inevitable.
In conclusion, the plays A Doll’s House and The House of Bernarda Alba have a unifying aspect in pride. Pride is a force throughout both plays from beginning to end. Although both plays were written at different times, they both have a central idea. Bernarda and Torvald control pride through force. Bernarda controls women through her cane and Torvald uses his status and money. Pride is a major source of order and reason for the plays’ downfalls. Families are broken, women’s roles change, and permanent reminders of the arrogant actions of dominant figures can be seen. Pride when it is brought to attention is a powerful force that can be seen very easily. Thus, pride is a dictator of its own affecting details, characters, and eventually the outcomes.
Garcia Lorca, Frederico. Three Tragedies: Blood Wedding, Yerma, Bernarda
Alba. The House of Bernarda Alba: A Drama About Women in the Villages of Spain. Trans. James Graham-Lujan and Richard L. O’Connel. New York: New Directions, 1947. 155-211.
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. 1879. New York: Dover, 1992.