In the three plays—Blood Wedding, Yerma (1934), and The House of Bernarda Alba (1936)—that culminated his poetic and dramatic career, Federico García Lorca succeeded brilliantly where a host of modern poet-dramatists had failed; he created a true poetry of the theater. The twentieth century is dotted with half-successful attempts at poetic drama by playwrights who lacked the requisite verbal facility for writing poetry or by versifiers whose theatrical efforts are difficult to accomplish onstage. Even successful verse dramatists such as T. S. Eliot, Christopher Fry, and Archibald MacLeish offer self-consciously “poetic” and “literary” efforts that lack the impact or even the “poetry” of the best prose dramas of the period. García Lorca, who was both a great lyric poet and a practical man of the theater, fused all of the elements of the stage—language, movement, ritual, color, lighting, spectacle, and music—into a single dramatic presentation.
Much of the power of these plays comes from the way García Lorca combines a complex, sophisticated theatrical style with extremely simple dramatic situations. Although the original impulse for Blood Wedding came from a real incident, the basic plot—a bride stolen from her wedding by a lover—is a perennial one. Leonardo Felíx and the Bride are victims of their own uncontrollable emotions. He has a wife and child; she fervently desires the social and financial stability that marriage to the Bridegroom will bring. Since the entire society favors that match, they know that their passionate act will have fatal consequences. These logical and moral considerations, however, are irrelevant to them in the face of their powerful, passionate feelings....
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