The Bride, a rich man’s daughter who was engaged to Leonardo some years ago, when she was fifteen years old. She does not truly love the Bridegroom, but the families consider theirs a good match. She will marry him and try to make the best of it because she can never be with Leonardo. She would like to forget Leonardo and live honorably with her husband, but she is helpless when she hears Leonardo’s voice. At the wedding reception, she tells the Bridegroom that she would like to rest a little before they dance. Instead, she rides away with Leonardo on his horse. Fleeing with him, she realizes her mistake and begs Leonardo to run away from her so that she will die alone. Instead, the two men kill each other, and she returns to the church hoping that the Bridegroom’s Mother will kill her. The two women reflect on the men they have lost to knives.
The Bridegroom, a rich young man who has bought a valuable vineyard and is now ready to marry a woman he has known for three years. As the wedding approaches, he is happy and eager; he loves the Bride and looks forward to his future as husband, father, and landowner. He dismisses all talk about the Bride’s former engagement because it was so long ago and cannot possibly matter now. At the wedding, he is both tender and demanding; the last thing he says to his wife is that she had better be ready to satisfy him sexually that night. When he learns that his wife has run away, he immediately gets on a horse and chases her. In the ensuing fight, he and Leonardo kill each other.
Leonardo Félix, who has been married to a cousin of the Bride for two years. He has never stopped loving the Bride, to whom he was once engaged. They were not permitted to marry because Leonardo is not wealthy; he and his wife barely have enough money to get by. As the Bride’s wedding approaches, he rides by her home more frequently, even in the middle of the night, and one morning he goes to tell her how her marriage will hurt him. As a member of the Bride’s extended family, he attends the wedding. He convinces the Bride to run away with him. When the Bridegroom overtakes them, he and Leonardo kill each other with their knives.
Leonardo’s Wife, the mother of his baby child. Although she has been married to Leonardo for two years, she is jealous of the feelings she suspects he still has for the Bride. She tells Leonardo that the neighbors have seen him riding far across the plains when he was supposedly out working; the wife suspects, correctly, that he was trying to see the Bride. She is the first to notice Leonardo’s disappearance from the wedding. When she next sees him, he has run away with the Bride and been killed.
The Bridegroom’s Mother
The Bridegroom’s Mother, a widow whose husband and older son were both murdered by members of the Félix family. She has reservations about the upcoming wedding, for reasons she does not fully understand; part of her worry is that when the Bridegroom leaves home, she will be alone. She also fears knives and other weapons. She carries out her role as mother of the groom, advising the Bridegroom on presents to buy for his bride and working out the wedding arrangements. She carries a sense of foreboding throughout. In the end, her remaining son is indeed...
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killed, with a knife, by a member of the Félix family, just as she has always feared.
Beggar Woman See Death, Old Woman
Bride The Bride is the last of the major protagonists to be introduced in the play's first act. The order in which the major characters are introduced—first the Bridegroom and Mother, then Leonardo, and then the Bride—could indicate their degree of social power and instrumentality. Unlike Leonardo, for example, who has the freedom and mobility to instigate the action and tragedy, the Bride is a character who must wait at home for things to happen to her. The first thing that happens to her is that her hand in marriage is asked for. Her behavior during the betrothal meeting and her conversations with the Servant show her frustration over her lot and her relative disinterest in the Bridegroom. She will marry only to drive out the memory of Leonardo. However, she believes that she will one day come to love her husband, even if it is with a love less passionate than the love she has for Leonardo. In joining Leonardo in flight from the community, the Bride knows that she and her lover are doomed. Clearly, she is as passionate as he, and this rebellion and expression of her repressed desires is a release.
Bridegroom Of the major characters in the play, the Bridegroom is perhaps the least compelling. Unlike Leonardo, the Bride, and the Mother, he is devoid of struggle and deep emotion. He is, rather, a straightforward and content young man. He works hard, he obeys his parents, and looks forward to his connection with the Bride with all the confidence of a groom who is convinced that he is making an excellent match.
Death Death (also known as Beggar Woman and Old Woman) as a beggar woman is an outsider to the play's community who does not bother herself with the community's pain. On the contrary, she seems to enjoy the proceedings, and as Death she thirsts after every life with which she comes into contact. Her bloodthirstiness and emotional coldness suggest how death is thought of by mere mortals, who view its inevitability and demands as anathema to human wishes and hopes.
Father The Father can be aligned with the Bridegroom and contrasted to the doubting and suspicious Mother. Like the Bridegroom, this patriarch is wholly oblivious to the fact that anything exists in his world to disturb its smooth workings. He seems convinced of his daughter's willingness to marry, and he seems to have wholly forgotten her earlier passion for Leonardo, if indeed he was ever aware of it at all. He does not notice, as does the Servant, that Leonardo is visiting his daughter. He thinks, instead, of how the ensuing match will enhance the already solid stature of the two families.
First Woodcutter Like the young girls in the play, the Woodcutters function like a chorus, that is, characters who are peripheral to the main action but who comment on it. The Woodcutters are appropriate characters with which to open the last act of the play. As men who cut down living trees, they foreshadow the deaths of the two young men. The First Woodcutter, like the Second Woodcutter, seems to sympathize with the lovers' passion and transgression. ‘‘You have to follow the path of your blood,’’ he says of the lovers' rebellion.
Leonardo Leonardo is the only character in Lorca's play who has a proper name. The other characters are designated according to their societal position or role. This indication of individuality suggests how he is the protagonist who disturbs the smooth social workings of his community. He asserts his own will against the rules of the community and brings tragedy upon all of the families to which he belongs or to which he is dramatically connected. He is driven by deep passion, as his furious travels by horse to and from the Bride's house demonstrate. Leonardo's fateful decision to deny the bonds of matrimony in favor of his abiding desire for the Bride occurs only when the Bride is certain to be married to another. This suggests the manner in which Leonardo's actions are motivated by possessiveness. As long as the Bride belongs to no other, Leonardo can tolerate their separation. While Leonardo's motivations are in certain respects selfish or possessive, and while he brings pain and suffering upon a number of persons, the play nevertheless generates a great deal of sympathy for his and the Bride's actions. The “doubleness” of Leonardo's character, that is, its attractiveness and its faults, suggests how there is a fine line between righteously asserting personal will and wrongful antisocial behavior.
Moon The Moon (also known as Young Woodcutter) is personified and made into a character just as Death is. It appears as a young woodcutter with a white face. Like Death, the Moon appears to look forward to the culmination of events, the bloody conclusion to the hunt for the fleeing lovers. The Moon enters the final act of the play craving tragedy as if tragedy were needed in order for its own life to be sustained. This suggests how tragedy is an unavoidable part of life; it is as likely as the moon in the sky. The Moon, accordingly, offers to flood the land brightly with its light so that the lovers will have no place to hide.
Mother The Mother is the strongest presence in Lorca' s play. She senses and expresses the likelihood of the imminent tragedy, and she discourses freely on how things should be as opposed to how they often turn out. As a wife, mother, and widow who has trod the path of social respectability and duty, she has accrued the considerable social power available to women in her society. This power is clearly substantial even if it is less instrumental than that of men. For example, her influence over her son amounts to almost total control, and in this way, women's indirect power over what happens outside of the home is evinced. Much is made of her stoic suffering in the play (suffering that occurs due to the deaths of loved ones). On the one hand, her acceptance of life's freak injustices and her decision to suffer quietly is noble and supports the reader's sense of her considerable strength of character. However, insofar as her limited access to public life keeps her ignorant of the histories of the Bride and Leonardo, and insofar as she is alert and willing to dispense orders and advice, she might very well have been able to prevent this latest tragedy if she were not so closely tied to the private space of the home. As the play's references to the lives of married women suggest, women in this society are unduly kept from public affairs and spaces. The Mother's stoicism takes on a different meaning when these particular factors are considered. Clearly, the Mother embraces and supports the widely opposed roles given to men and women and the curtailing of her considerable powers that this entails. In this respect, her stoicism and sense of duty is like quietism, or the passive acceptance of things that can or should be changed.
Mother-in-Law Leonardo's Mother-in-Law is known as a woman who was scorned by her husband. Her daughter is soon to suffer the same plight. This generational repetition creates a sense of inevitability in regards to these women's situation. It is as if there will always be those who are scorned. Indeed, the Mother-in-Law and Wife prepare for the Wife's imminent humiliation with a minimum of agitated bitterness and a maximum of sorrow and acceptance. The Mother-in-Law is companion and support to her daughter.
Neighbor The Neighbor Woman provides important information for the audience; information that neither the Mother nor the Bridegroom can know if events are to have proceeded as far as they have when the play opens. Thus, a family outsider must appear in order for this information to be presented. The neighbor's conversation with the Mother in the first act apprises the audience of the Bride's past connection with Leonardo, such that it also comes out that Leonardo is of the dreaded Félix family, members of which are responsible for the deaths of the Mother's husband and son. This information establishes, from the play's start, a sense of foreboding and imminent tragedy.
Old Woman See Death, Beggar Woman
Second Woodcutter The Second Woodcutter joins the First Woodcutter in sympathy for the fleeing lovers, saying that the community ‘‘ought to let them go.’’ He vacillates as to the success of the lovers' escape attempt, saying at one moment that one never escapes payment for a transgression (‘‘But blood that sees the light of day is drunk up by the earth’’), and at another that they might just be able to avoid punishment (‘‘There are many clouds and it would be easy for the moon not to come out’’).
Servant The Bride's Servant is, in contrast to the Father, quite aware of what is happening in the Bride's house. Her exchanges with the Bride bring out the Bride's true feelings and frustrations. Throughout the play, the Servant attempts to rein in the Bride's feelings by instilling calm and caution in the young woman. Thus, for all of her enthusiastic participation in the wedding events, it is sensed that she is aware that things are not as they seem. She makes every effort to protect the Bride from herself and from Leonardo, begging Leonardo, at one point, to let the young woman alone: ‘‘Don't you come near her again.’’
Third Woodcutter The Third Woodcutter is the least sympathetic to the lovers of the three, and he is no way convinced that they will succeed in escaping. His first words are: ‘‘They'll find them.’’ His succeeding comments are equally blunt. For example, he states that ‘‘they'll kill them,’’ and that when the ‘‘moon comes out they'll see them.’’ Like Death as the beggar woman, he seems to look forward to a gruesome end to events.
Wife Leonardo's Wife is clearly wronged by her husband's and the Bride's actions. Yet, there is little sympathy felt for this character. Her failure to win substantive sympathy is partly, at least, due to the degree to which she accepts, indeed almost expects, her fate. Yet, her passivity is crucial for the overall sense of the play. Through this character the manner in which these women are largely dependent upon the actions of men for their happiness is made clear. Her passivity is a necessary feature for a play, which contains strong criticism regarding the lesser social freedoms of women at the time. Her passivity is therefore a symptom of a society in which women learn early and well, and better than men, how to curb their desires and wants.
Young Girls Individual, paired, or groups of young girls appear at various points in Blood Wedding. Their function is usually to lyrically accompany or comment on action; like the Woodcutters, then, they are like a chorus. For example, on the day of the wedding, girls enter and exit singing or chanting wedding songs and verses. This accompaniment helps to create the appropriate stately but festive wedding atmosphere. At the end of the play, two girls open the final scene winding a skein of red wool, which reminds the audience of blood. They sing of death, but later, they clearly do not have specific information about the wedding, the hunt, at its outcome. As characters within the events of the play, their actions and knowledge are realistic, but they might be drawn outside of events so that they can be all-knowing commentators.
Young Men The young men serve as counterparts to the young girls during the wedding scenes. These youths function to represent the future of all young men just as the young girls exemplify the future of all young women. Interacting as they do on a wedding day, the play suggests how both the girls and these boys will, one day, marry themselves. Together, the young men and girls contribute to a sense of the unceasing cycles of life, in which marriage occurs as routinely as does birth and death.
Young Woodcutter See The Moon