Bernarda Alba And Medea: Created Millenia Apart, Yet So Similar

Bernarda Alba And Medea: Created Millenia Apart, Yet So Similar

Length: 1597 words (4.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Most people would define a great female protagonist as intelligent, strong minded and willing to fight for what she believes in. Both Bernarda Alba from Federico Garcia Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba and Medea by Euripides fit this description. One is a tyrannical mother who imposes her choices on her five daughters, the other is arguably the strongest non-Olympian woman in all of Greek mythology. If we take a closer look, we notice that these two characters have many things in common. From their positions of strength, to the masculine aspects of their personalities; from the way they deal with situations to the part they play in the deaths of their children. In this essay we will attempt to seek out their similarities, as well as discover how two playwrights, who wrote for distinct audiences millennia apart, could have created two women so alike.
First it is important to place both ‘heroines’ in the setting where their tale unfolds. Bernarda Alba was created to be the allegorical form of Spanish dictator General Franco. Her control over her daughters is therefore very much like the right-wing military dictatorship that Franco had created in Spain. Medea was written centuries earlier, and set in the world of Greek mythology; the protagonist has just been abandoned by her husband Jason for Glauce, the Princess of Corinth. It is known that “most of Euripides’ thinkers are women”1, an apt description for Medea, who is very strong mentally and determined.
It would seem that these women are very different when its comes to the question of power. Bernarda Alba is immediately powerful in all aspects of the world that she lives in, and especially in her own household, “Tyrant over everyone around her”2. Medea, on the other hand, seems to be utterly powerless from the start: “But what of me? Abandoned, homeless, I am a cruel husband’s plaything”3, she is a foreigner in Corinth, she has burned all her bridges in her native land, her husband has left her, and she now has no protection in a land that is not her own. However, thanks to her single minded character she overcomes this ‘handicap’ and takes matters into her own hands: “The day on which I will make corpses of three of my enemies, father, daughter and husband-my husband.”4 This makes her unlike any other tragic hero in Greek mythology; another would have let this weakness take over their fate.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Bernarda Alba And Medea: Created Millenia Apart, Yet So Similar." 123HelpMe.com. 06 Dec 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=169197>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Family Of Pascual Duarte And The House Of Bernarda Alba Essays

- Being a parent is a full time job that by no means is easy. It takes a lot to raise a child. Usually there are many sacrifices the parent makes so their child has a better life and parents try to raise them in the best manner possible. In two different novels The Family of Pascual Duarte by Camilo Cela and The House of Bernarda Alba by Frederico Lorca, readers are introduced to two mothers who are anything but great parents. However, Bernarda is a better mother than Pascual’s mother because she was only doing what she thought was best for her daughter’s whereas Pascual’s mother didn’t always act in the best interest of her children....   [tags: Family, Marriage, The House of Bernarda Alba]

Research Papers
1427 words (4.1 pages)

Essay on The House of Bernarda Alba

- “May God strike you dead, you two-faced scorpion. You thorn in my flesh” , “You are out of your mind. I won’t allow it. I forbid you!’ “The House of Bernarda Alba” is a play written at the brink of the 1930s Spanish civil war by Fredrico Garcia Lorca. “A Doll’s House”, is a play written by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen in the late 1800s. Both plays portray domination as a contributory of love, predominantly by the heads of households of the respected plays. In both plays “A Doll’s House” and “The House of Bernarda Alba”, domination and love have been key elements in the development of the plays....   [tags: Theatre]

Research Papers
1294 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on The House of Bernarda Alba

- The House of Bernarda Alba Federico Garcia Lorca was born in 1898 and died in 1936, he lived through one of the most troubling times of Spain's history. He grew up in Granada, Spain, and enjoyed the lifestyle and countryside of Spain. His father was a wealthy farmer and his mother was a school teacher and encouraged his love of literature, art, and music. He was an extremely talented man. A respectable painter, a fine pianist, and an accomplished writer. He was close friends with some of Spain's most talented people, including musician Manuel de Falla, and painter Salvador Dali....   [tags: Essays Papers]

Research Papers
1617 words (4.6 pages)

The House of Bernarda Alba Essay

- The House of Bernarda Alba The National theatre Choose one production that you have seen and which you particularly enjoyed and discuss the aspects which made it so successful. The House of Bernarda Alba is a tragedy by Lorca which was set in Spain in the early 1930’s during the Spanish civil war and is about five daughters whose life’s resolve around their mother Bernarda Alba. The girls are repressed by there mother which could be why he wrote this play, to express his feelings and show through the characters how he felt during life as he was repressed for being gay “better never to lay eyes on a man, never to have seen one’....   [tags: Drama]

Research Papers
1143 words (3.3 pages)

The Pricing Of Similar Products Or Services Essays

- Introduction Many people dream of working for themselves--about not having an employer controlling their hours, and how much money they can make. However, in order to make those dreams a reality, there are certain steps you must take. Without doing these things, your dreams will merely be idle words. Perform Market Research Use the Internet to explore if someone in your area has already been successful at selling the product or service you wish to provide. If they have succeeded, you may contemplate moving in a different direction....   [tags: Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Advertising]

Research Papers
1066 words (3 pages)

Essay on A Similar Way By Duffy

- In a similar way, Duffy reminds us that traditional romantic relationships usually end in a restrictive marriage. In Valentine she compared the creamy white rings of the onion with the metal “platinum loops” of a “wedding-ring” which over time will, like the onion rings, “shrink” in size. The negative connotation og the verb ”shrink” suggests that marriage entraps a person and restricts them both physically as well as emotionally, like Martha is in Weekend. Duffy warns others of the consequences of romantic conventions, which can be destructive when compared to free romantic love....   [tags: Love, Interpersonal relationship, Wedding]

Research Papers
1309 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on The House of Bernarda Alba

- The play "The House Of Bernarda Alba" gives an interesting portrayal of a middle class home consisting entirely of women. The plot is set in a small town, middle class house in a society dominated by men. It is believed to be set somewhere in Spain in the 1930s. The play was written in a time when the suppression of woman was still strong. The mother, the head of the household, does everything she believes is necessary to keep her house within a good social standing in the town. The mother had become the master of the house after her husband died, which makes her work harder to keep a good reputation for her house of women....   [tags: European Literature]

Free Essays
563 words (1.6 pages)

Henrik Isben's A Doll’s House and Frederico Garcia's The House of Bernarda Alba

- 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....   [tags: Compare Contrast House Garcia Doll Essays]

Research Papers
1567 words (4.5 pages)

Different and Similar friends Essay

- Different and Similar friends Some people prefer to have friends who are different from them and some prefer to have friends who are similar to them. Which do you prefer. According to chemistry-students, second year, RUPP, many like to have friends for their studying. Some students prefer to make friends who are similar to them and some think that the friends who they like are different from them. There are many reasons that cause those people want to choose persons who they want to be friend. On the one hand, making friends is to think about the age sometimes....   [tags: social issues]

Free Essays
562 words (1.6 pages)

Essay on Comparative Elegies~Similar or Different?

- An elegy is a poem of lament, usually formal and sustained, over the death of a particular person; also, a meditative poem in plaintive or sorrowful mood. Through an elegy authors are able to convey their deepest remorse and grief through the eloquent use of the English language. Three elegies in which show the possible interpretations and moral convictions of death are “Elegy for Jane”, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”, and “A Satirical Elegy”. Jane's unfortunate death in an equestrian accident prompted one of her professors, the poet Theodore Roethke, to write a moving poem, "Elegy for Jane," recalling his young student and his feelings of grief at her loss....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
682 words (1.9 pages)

Even though her actions are drastic and cruel, she proves to be a force to be reckoned with and unwilling to have her destiny written for her.
It seems that Bernarda Alba wields a blind force, she is in power and no one can challenge her statement: “Silence”5, which introduces her part in the play, and also ends it; Medea, however, is more cunning and manipulative, power is not given to her, she has to take it. An aspect of their power which is more similar is the objects that symbolize it : for Bernarda Alba it is her cane “BERNARDA, beating with her cane on the floor”6, for Medea it is the garments that she sends to Glauce “I will send them, you see, with presents in their hands: a finely woven dress and a coronet of beaten gold”7. Although they are not used for the same purpose, both demonstrate the weak positions of the other characters. Bernarda uses her cane to enforce discipline, even being violent with it, “beating her with her cane”8, when her need for control escalates. Medea uses the garments to show that she will not be hurt without revenge. Her garments cause death, which makes them more impressive, “if she takes this finery and puts it on her, she shall perish horribly, as shall anyone else who touches the girl”9. These objects could also be seen as potential obstacles for the women; the moment Adela breaks the cane “Adela snatches away her mother’s cane and breaks it in two/This is what I do with the tyrant’s cane”10, Bernarda is stripped of a great part of her strength and authority. The garments should do the same for Medea, yet they do not because she manages to provide herself a “safe haven” in Athens “not to expel me ever from your land”11 and she uses her dark magic to escape any form of punishment: “MEDEA, suddenly appears above the stage in a chariot drawn by dragons.”12
Both character’s forceful personalities and the power they invoke are built up by the fact that they are mentioned several times before they first appear on stage. This creates suspense and tension as we wait to meet these characters. By the time they appear, we see them as the playwrights desire, through the other character’s eyes. In Lorca’s case, he shows us that Bernarda Alba is not a woman to be crossed: “If Bernarda doesn’t find things shining, she’ll pull out the few hairs I have left”13. He creates the impression of an evil person who cares for no one but herself, which is of course an exaggeration; she is authoritarian, but thinks she is doing what is best for her daughters. Euripides creates a different feeling, as from the words of the nurse, Medea appears to be a desolate, weak and overcome woman: “Medea, poor lady, dishonored in this way”14. Although this feeling is seemingly confirmed by Medea’s first line, a ‘suicidal’ lament: “If only a flaming bolt from heaven would pierce my head”15, we quickly see that it is all a facade, and that she is not who she is made out to be. Both playwrights exaggerate a certain aspect of the characters’ personality, making us believe they are a certain way, but we quickly realize once they are on stage, that they are only partially revealed through the other characters’ statements.
Both female protagonists have certain ‘masculine’ aspects to their personalities. Bernarda Alba’s appear from the fact that her husband is dead, and with five grown daughters, she needs to take on both parental roles. This may be the reason she is so hard on her daughters, and is unable to explain to them that she is only doing what is best. Medea, as a woman in Ancient Greece shows many ‘unfeminine ‘ qualities. The culmination of this ‘masculinity’ comes when she persuades herself to kill her children to make Jason suffer. She achieves something that is quite impossible: stripping herself of her natural motherly love. It is somewhat ironic that these two women should take on these ‘masculine’ traits: they have both been betrayed by men. Bernarda’s spouse was sleeping with servants and Medea’s has left her for another woman.
Another thing that these two women have in common is the fact that both of them have another character who acts as a sort of ‘conscience.’ Bernarda Alba has La Poncia, the head servant in her house, who never hesitates to tell her mistress how she feels, “Of course, any place else, they’d be the poor ones.”16 There are several scenes where only the two women are present and La Poncia tries to warn Bernarda that if she does not alter her ways she will be powerless: “And now see what’s happening to you with these airs!”17. Unfortunately, Bernarda refuses to listen to La Poncia, simply because she is a servant. In Medea’s case it is the Chorus who acts as her ‘conscience’, (principally the antistrophe, the strophe usually agrees with Medea). We could say that the Chorus is more like a ‘conscience’ than La Poncia; Medea hears what they say, rather than ignores it, as Bernarda does, although she ignores their advice. This only makes Medea’s will appear stronger, although she knows in her own mind that what she is doing is wrong, she does it simply to show that she can. Notwithstanding her murderous and devious acts, she still proves her strength throughout the play.
The final similarity, is that both women play an important part in the deaths of one or more of their children. Bernarda Alba ultimately causes her daughter Adela’s death, by refusing to change her ways. Medea decides to kill her sons to punish Jason, although just before she acts, she has a sudden moment of indecision, “ My heart dissolves, ladies, when I see the shining faces of my children! I could not do it! Goodbye to those plans I made”18, she overcomes her hesitations. The main difference between the two here, is that whilst one plays a passive role in the death of her child, the other plays a distressingly active part. This difference becomes very apparent through comparison: Bernarda Alba effects change by being authoritarian and expecting things to go her way, whereas Medea, seeing that things are not going as planned, takes matters into her own hands and effects change through her own actions.

In conclusion, though there are small differences in the way the playwright’s display certain aspects of both protagonist’s personalities, they remain similar. Both have power but individual ways of wielding it, both have very strong willed obstinate natures which manifest themselves differently. Both remain correlative examples of female strength and intelligence, though they were created by two playwrights who wrote for worlds completely alien to each other. Yet these women, powerful as they are, have neither those qualities that make them attractive to an audience, nor bring them happiness to their own lives.

1. Medea and Other Plays, Euripides
2. The House of Bernarda Alba, Federico Garcia Lorca
Return to 123HelpMe.com