Blood Wedding Commentary on Symbolism

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Blood Wedding Commentary on Symbolism in reflecting the societal norms of 20th century Spain

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  • IB English A Literature HL: May 2015

    Works in Translation Essay

    Selected Text:

    Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia

    Research Question:

    How does Lorca use symbolism to create sympathy for repressed groups in society?

    Name: Stephanie Wong Candidate Number: 002634-0089 School: Victoria Shanghai Academy School Number: 2634 Teacher: Ms. Jane Barrowcliff Word Count: 1,498

  • Stephanie Wong (002634-0089) English Lit HL Works In Translation

    Victoria Shanghai Academy (2634) 2

    How does Lorca use symbolism to create sympathy for repressed groups in society?

    Repression can be defined as to control what people do, especially by using

    force (Cambridge). Being a gifted writer in a chaotic era, Lorcas many works reflected

    his opinions about the civil disorder in Spain during the 1930s. Living in a patriarchal

    society, the characters of Blood Wedding struggles to break free from the bound of

    traditional beliefs. The symbolic characters of the Bride and Mother, the Woodcutters

    and the Moon are all deeply rooted in the images of repressed groups. Blood too

    symbolises the inhumane treatments of repressed groups. His sympathetic attitudes

    towards the repressed are rooted from his own identity as a social outcast. Lorcas

    employment of the diverse range of symbols in Blood Wedding in order to portray his

    own sympathy evokes a sense of pathos from the audience for repressed groups in a

    conservative society.

    Lorcas sympathy for the repression of women is evident in the characters of the

    Bride and Leonardos wife. Ironically, they are both romantically linked to Leonardo. The

    Bride and Leonardo are madly in love with each other, but Leonardo is married and the

    Bride is forced into an arranged marriage; she has no power to refuse or choose her

    fate1. Women were expected to know their place, to marry and live a stagnant life with

    her husbands family. Marriage in Blood Wedding is portrayed as a shining white bed.

    And a woman. And a man (II.I). Where the white bed suggests sexual intercourse, it

    indicates that marriage is purely driven by sexual desires that bring endless pleasure

    (II.I) instead of true love. Leonardos wife is treated unjustly and as a sexual object. It

    1 The character of the Mother challenges the Bride by asking her, Do you know what marriage is, little one? (I.III). The Bride replies, I know my duty. (I.III), as if the duty is out of her control.

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    Victoria Shanghai Academy (2634) 3

    could be argued that Leonardo and his wifes marriage is purely driven by sex.

    Moreover, Leonardo suppresses the voice of his wife, often telling her to shut up and

    leave [him] alone (I.II.). She is not given a chance to express her feelings or her

    worries about their current situation as they dont have the money (II.II). The Wife is

    also very distant from Leonardo. She doesnt know whats wrong with [Leonardo,]

    whats going in [Leonardos] head (I.II), and despite her attempts to force Leonardo

    confess look[ing] straight into [her] eyes (I.II), Leonardo stops her and abruptly leaves

    the scene. Leonardos estrangement from his wife symbolizes womens traditional role

    restricts them to household chores and nurturing children; husbands would not share

    their concerns with their wives. The restricted duties of women are a form of repression,

    as the Francoist government stressed to preserve the traditional Catholic beliefs.

    Red is a symbolic colour throughout the play, directly connected to blood and the

    title of the play. Blood is often associated with death, which is the ultimate fate of

    Leonardo and the Bridegroom. The inevitable deaths of Leonardo and the Bridegroom

    represent societys expectations for individuals to obey traditional rules. Being a lover of

    the Greek chorus, Lorca embodies a chorus in the form of a group of young girls. Red

    wool, red wool, what will you make? [] One thread of my wool will fetter your ankles.

    Will knot and choke the bitter wreath (III.II). The presences of the red wool and thread

    to the Greek chorus suggest a link to the Greek mythology, Moirai, the personification of

    fate.2 The link to Moirai strengthens the red wools link to fate and death. A Chinese

    reading for red wool or red string would be the link between Lovers and commonly

    2 Moirai are usually depicted as three sisters: Clotho: In charged of measuring the thread of lifespan. She knows all of the past. Lachesis: In charged of spinning the thread of lifespan. She knows all of the present. Atropos: In charged of cutting the thread of lifespan. She can foresee the future.

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    known as the red string of fate3. This may suggest that the fate of the Bride,

    Bridegroom and Leonardo are bound together due to their love triangle and they are

    destined to die, as suggested by the link of the colour red to death. Another reading into

    the symbol of blood suggests sin and sinners. The Lovers are condemned as sinners by

    their society due to their affair. Lorca presents his sympathy for sinners who desire

    freedom and true love, yet they are bound by societys constrains. The character of the

    Mother also condemns Leonardo as a sinner due to the death of her husband and son

    caused by Leonardos family. She insists that I have to spit I have to spit or I shall

    have to kill (I.I) whenever she hears the last name Felix, and she strongly proclaims

    that she dont forgive it (II.I). Lorcas use of anaphora in the mothers speech

    emphasises her blind hatred for Leonardo due to her past with the Felix clan. This

    shows Lorcas own sympathies for people who are condemned for things they have not

    done, or the faults of their ancestors, like Leonardo. It could also represent Lorcas

    sympathy for people who were condemned for something out of their hands. This might

    be reinforced by Lorcas feeling towards his own homosexuality, which was not

    something he chose to be.

    Symbolically, through the Woodcutters, Lorca presents societys lack of pity for

    individuals who go against society, and exposes the Bride and Leonardo as lovers. It is

    suggested that Lorcas homosexuality translates into his sympathy for these repressed

    groups, who could not openly express their opinions and had no freedom of speech in

    the conservative society. The Woodcutters act as spectators who comment on the

    Lovers being on the run, allowing the audience to follow the lovers elopement and their

    3 It is based on a Chinese proverb: An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.

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    Victoria Shanghai Academy (2634) 5

    current whereabouts in the forest. They have committed adultery, and now are in hiding

    in order to escape the punishments set by the society. The Lovers motives were purely

    out of their love for each other, yet the repression of this relationship suggests that a

    conservative society do not allow true love to exist. The Woodcutter attempts to shield

    the Lovers from the Bridegrooms hunting crew, cover their love, with a branch of

    shadow (III.I.54-56), providing a glimmer of hope for the audience that the Lovers might

    be able to escape their punishments. Ironically, the profession of a Woodcutter is to

    have [trees cut] down (III.I). Lorca might have intended to show a failed attempt by the

    Woodcutters to shield the Lovers, as their professions requires destroying lives. This

    may translate into Lorcas sympathy for the failed attempts of breaking free from the

    traditional societies by people desiring freedom, as they are ultimately captured and

    executed by the government. In Blood Wedding, Leonardo pays his price of violating

    societys rules when he is shot dead as soon as his whereabouts is exposed by the

    moon.

    The moon works with the Woodcutters to symbolise fate in Blood Wedding as a

    channel for Lorca to show his sympathy for repressed individuals who succumb to fate.

    Personified as a young man, specially a woodcutter4, the moon is in contrast with the

    Three Woodcutters. Lorca had shaped Leonardo, as Gibson (1989) describes, the

    victims of ineluctable fate. Moon is symbolically the personification of fate. Its ability to

    shine down its moonlight, spilling the luminescent glow of intense blue light (III.I)

    throughout the forest, it exposes the lovers locations. The colour of blue used in the

    stage directions may represent sorrow or death, as the paleness of a corpse is close to

    4 III.I. Stage directions Enter the Moon white face

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    a greyish blue tone. The use of a blue lighting may be Lorcas way of hinting at the

    death of the love triangle, and in turn represents the exposure of people who violate

    societys rules. Lorcas stylisation of the Moon is different to the romantic, serene Moon

    common in literature. The fact that Lorcas Moon works together with the Beggar

    Woman, who represents death, suggests that the Moon, and a patriarchal society,

    seeks to find and shun those who violate traditions and committed sins, like the Lovers

    and their elopement. The Moons ability to place judgements and verdict on the Lovers

    presents to the audience that it can manipulate their fate, in order to satisfy its own

    bloodlust to warm [his] cheeks (III.I). This is suggested by its symbolic representation

    of fate, and its identity as a young man, while the majority of the characters in Blood

    Wedding are women. As mentioned previously, Lorca has a tendency to create female

    characters with a higher status, yet they are unable to challenge the Moons status as

    someone who manipulates fate. This suggests that Lorca has sympathy for people who

    are freedom fighters and individuals, yet they are unable to challenge societys

    traditions in the face of possible prosecutions.

    Being a part of the forces of change in society, Lorca expresses his sympathy for

    the repressed groups, due to his personal experiences and struggles in a patriarchal

    society. Lorcas female characters, like Mother and Bride, are bounded by the

    patriarchal society despite his tendency in granting them power. Lorcas own liberalist

    stance motivated him in presenting sympathy for individuals who seek freedom, like

    Leonardo, as they are bounded by the restrictions of a conservative society. Their

    inability to speak up evokes pathos in the audience and bystanders, as their passion to

    fight for what they desire proves to be the pavement to their downfall. Blood Wedding is

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    a controversial play that gives a platform for Lorca to express his sympathy for

    repressed groups. The social overtones in Blood Wedding are apparent through the use

    of symbolism; it dramatizes the harshness of societal norms in a patriarchal society.

    Such dramatization calls into question how severe the repression of groups were during

    Lorcas era, which is a key feature that makes the play so controversial and enduring.

  • Stephanie Wong (002634-0089) English Lit HL Works In Translation

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    Bibliography Website

    "History of Spain - Changes, Anarchy, Then Civil War 1900 - 1939." History of Spain. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2014. .

    Estefania, Rafael. "Poet's Death Still Troubles Spain." BBC News. BBC, 18 Aug. 2006. Web. 14 Jan. 2014. .

    "Chinese (Red) String Theory | Inside Out & Backwards." Inside Out Backwards. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2014.

    "Red." Mobile Color Matters. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. . "Blood Wedding Education Pack." Cut to the Chase Productions. Cut to the Chase Productions,

    n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. .

    Nevin, Julie. "Blood Wedding Study Guide." BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications. Brigham Young University, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. .

    "Arranged Marriages - Past and Present." HubPages. HubPages, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. .

    "Traditional Gender Roles | Girlfuture.com." Traditional Gender Roles | Girlfuture.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. .

    "Traditional Roles of Men and Women." StudyMode. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. .

    Jones, David Richard, and Jones, Susan. Federico Garcia Lorca Study Guide. N.p.: Repertorio.org, n.d. PDF.

    "Federico Garcia Lorca / Blood Wedding / Cortijo Del Fraile." Federico Garcia Lorca / Blood Wedding / Cortijo Del Fraile. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2014. .

    "Women in the Spanish Revolution - Solidarity." Libcom.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2014. .

    Print

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    Victoria Shanghai Academy (2634) 9

    Gibson, I. Federico Garca Lorca: A Life. New York, NY: Pantheon, 1989. Print. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge UP, 1998. Print. Garcia Lorca, Federico. Blood Wedding. Trans. Ted Hughes. N.p.: Faber & Faber, 1996. Print.

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