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Federico Lorca's The House Of Bernarda Alba And Isabel Allende's The House Of The Spirits

1845 words - 7 pages

Federico Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba and Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits

Society, and its influences upon the characters, plays a pivotal role
in the development of the story in Federico Lorca's "The House of
Bernarda Alba" and Isabel Allende's "The House of the Spirits." Though
the characters in each literary work were influenced by a range of
societal pressures, three major influences dominate both works. The
Church, male dominance over women, and socio-economic status (in other
words, one's social class) are all sources of the greatest societal
pressures upon the characters. In order to understand why these
societal pressures had such a great influence upon the characters, it
is important to understand the setting of each story.

"The House of Bernarda Alba" is set in a small village in rural Spain
at about the same time as the play was written, which was just before
the Spanish Civil War. In rural Spain, like many rural areas across
Europe, traditional values and social systems were prevalent among the
small villages. As a result, these rural areas, like much of European
society at the time, were largely backwards in their social structure
with class divisions still existent and society dominated by males.
Also, as is quite apparent in the play, religion in the form of the
Catholic Church had a huge influence over the lives of the people.
"The House of Bernarda Alba" portrays the lives of five sisters living
in a village in rural Spain who have been heavily repressed by the
society that they live in. They live in a restricting and unforgiving
society where men exercise great control over women, the Church wields
such an influence that it can ostracize individuals that do not
conform to its wishes, and social class separations between the
peasantry and the wealthy form an age-old societal schism difficult to
overcome. As a result, society plays an important role by influencing
the characters and their actions and eventually leading to a tragic
finale.

Though "The House of The Spirits" is set in rural South America (no
particular country is specified) and not rural Spain, the society
described in the novel is very similar to that in "The House of
Bernarda Alba." Again, the characters live in a society dominated and
controlled by men with distinctive social class separations and with
the Catholic Church wielding great power and influence over the
people. The story spans three generations of the Trueba family who are
all greatly affected by the societal influences. As society changes,
the characters also change as old pressures disappear and new
pressures emerge.

As was characteristic of rural societies throughout Europe and Latin
America at the time of these literary works, the Catholic Church
played a profound role in the lives of people. Its influence was so
prevalent because it was the common link between people of all social
classes.

In "The House of Bernarda Alba",...

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