How is the play The House of Bernarda Alba intensified by the feeling of hopelessness right to the very end?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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La Casa de Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca is a play in which a newly-widowed woman named Bernarda Alba keeps her daughters under a tight vigilance and under extreme control from the influence of men. As a result, the women consistently battle each other, almost as if venting out the overwhelming pressure that they live under.

The main causes of the problems in Bernarda Alba's household were Bernarda's inflexible nature, and her inability to change. The entire household lived as in frozen in time. The daughters were stuck in a situation in which they were not even allowed to look at men. Their old grandmother was insane and stuck in her own past. The lack of exposure to the world outside their household led them to live like prisoners of their mother. Their situation was maddening.

For this reason, nothing seemed to change in the story; nothing outside Bernarda's control was allowed to come into the household: Eventually, the family imploded when Adela hung herself.

The inflexible nature of Bernarda and her obstinate ways permeate the play and bring out the profound sense of hopelessness that is so characteristic. The reader can feel the desperation of the daughters, and it is no wonder (one thinks) that suicide was Adela's only solution to escape the infernal atmosphere of oppression and control that filled the house.  

Therefore, Bernarda's behavior is what intensifies the feelings of hopelessness in the story and what prevents change from transforming, and maybe even enhancing, the situation of the family.

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