Bridegroom: A young man of good standing who is to be married and whose name is never revealed.
The Bridegroom’s Mother: A grieving woman who lost her husband and first son in a blood feud.
Neighbor: An acquaintance of the Mother.
Mother-In-Law: The Wife’s mother who sings a lullaby to a baby child in her arms.
Wife: Leonardo’s wife.
Leonardo Felix: The Wife’s husband; the only character with a name.
A Girl: A minor character who comes in with news on the impending wedding.
The Bride: The woman who will soon marry.
The Father of the Bride.
A Maid: A woman who looks after the Bride.
In the opening scene of Federico García Lorca's play Blood Wedding, a mother and her son (the Bridegroom) meet in a room that is painted yellow. Although it is breakfast time, the son wants to head straight for the vineyards without eating breakfast. The Mother grows distressed because the son wants to cut grapes in the vineyards. When he asks for a knife, her alarm grows. The audience learns that the Mother has endured the murder of both her husband, to whom she was only married for three years, and her eldest son. The Mother compares her dead husband to a bull, a symbol of fertility in Spain. The reminiscences of her dead husband always evoke symbols of fertility and procreation—for instance, the father “smelled like carnations.” A few lines later, the father and dead brother are compared to geraniums, again evoking an image of nature’s regenerative capacities. These images are contrasted with the destructiveness, final and irreparable, of a knife or pistol.
While the audience never learns exactly why the Mother’s husband and eldest son were killed, the Mother does reveal that the killers are still alive, but in prison. The fact that these killers are alive while her family is “dead,” with only one last hope at procreating and carrying on the “blood,” the soon-to-be-married son torments the Mother. The contrast causes her much grief: “My dead ones, covered with weeds, silent, turned to dust. Two men who were like two geraniums! The killers, in prison, alive and well, gazing at the mountains.” The Mother has been grieving for years. However, instead of being happy at the news of her surviving son’s impending marriage, she is suspicious.
The Mother seems to want to convince herself that the bride-to-be (Bride) is a “good girl.” But she has doubts. A sense of foreboding enters the dialogue. Little is known about the bride-to-be. She lives far away, and the Mother implies that she may have “seen” someone else before her son. The son finally manages to distract his mother with thoughts of future offspring.
After the son exits, a neighbor appears at the door. The Mother pumps the Neighbor for information on the woman her son is to marry. The Neighbor reveals that “no one really knows her.” In the gossiping, it is revealed that the bride-to-be’s mother did not love her husband. This increases the sense of foreboding—of tragedy waiting to happen—that has been building during the scene. The sense of foreboding reaches a climax when the Mother hears that the bride-to-be was indeed involved at one time: with Leonardo Felix, a member of the family that killed her husband and eldest son.
The second scene shifts to the Mother-in-Law and her daughter, who are singing a lullaby to a child. The lullaby includes two important symbols: an unhappy horse and a river. As the child drifts off to sleep, the Mother-in-Law exits and Leonardo enters. The Wife begins questioning him about his treatment of his horse. She implies that he has been taking long trips and that the horse is suffering. Leonardo denies it, but his wife is not entirely convinced. The Mother-in-Law reenters and backs up her daughter’s assertions: “Who is riding that horse so hard?” Leonardo callously claims that he doesn’t care about the horse’s well-being.
The conversation shifts to news of the impending wedding. The Wife is the cousin of the woman who is to be married. A girl enters with news of the fine lace that the groom is bringing for the wedding. The Bridegroom clearly has more financial standing than Leonardo. Leonardo is perturbed by this news. He becomes angry, and the Wife becomes suspicious of his changing mood. The bitterness is not resolved. Leonardo exits and the Wife and Mother-in-Law pick up singing the haunting lullaby again.
In the third scene, the Mother and the Bridegroom pay a visit to the residence of the Bride in order to secure the wedding date and give gifts. The residence is over four hours away in the...