The House of Bernarda Alba Act III Summary and Analysis
by Federico Garcia Lorca

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Act III Summary and Analysis

New Character
Prudencia, a woman from the neighborhood.

Summary
Scene: An interior patio. Bernarda and the daughters are eating. Prudencia, a woman from the village is present. Poncia is serving them.

Prudencia and Bernarda discuss Prudencia’s family: Her husband is stubborn and holds a grudge over an inheritance. The daughter has never been forgiven for disobeying the father. Bernarda remarks that, “A daughter who disobeys stops being a daughter and becomes an enemy.”

The conversation is interrupted by the sounds of a breeding stallion. Bernarda orders the laborer to let the stallion free and lock up the mares if necessary. García Lorca, here, is once again emphasizing the difference in genders: females, whether human or beast, are kept locked up and away from the males, whose energy is harmless exuberance.

Through the conversation, the audience learns that Pepe el Romano is to marry Angustias. When Angustias shows Prudencia the pearl engagement ring, Prudencia remarks that “pearls mean tears.” The symbolism is clear: marriage is sorrow.

Prudencia departs after some minor chit-chat about the furniture. Adela is anxious to go outside. However, Martiro, jealous and aware of some secret meeting, keeps shadowing her along with Amelia.

Afer they are alone, Bernarda speaks to Angustias about Matirio’s theft. She confesses that the theft may be more than a joke. However, as usual, Bernarda is concerned about what others will think and asks her daughter to, “. . .keep up appearances.”

They then shift the conversation to Pepe el Romano; He leaves Angustias’ window earlier and earlier and seems distracted. Bernarda advises her daughter to only speak when spoken too and not to quarrel with her future husband. Her advise is, basically, that men will behave as they wish. Don’t call them on it.

The other sisters return. Angustias is going to bed early because Pepe el Romamo said he was going on a trip. The sisters chat about the beauty of the night sky. Adela, with her comments, reveals herself as the only romantic in the family. Martirio,is obsessed with watching Adela’s every move and alluding to the fact that it is a good night for a prowler.

After Martirio learns that Pepe el Romano is supposedly on a trip, she immediately glares at Adela. Suspicions are confirmed. Adela is planning on meeting Pepe el Romano, who no longer even wants to be bothered making an appearance at Angustias’ window. All exit, save Bernarda and Poncia. They continue their conversation from the previous act:

-Bernarda is sure that her vigilance can control any situation.
-Poncia remarks that all is not as it appears. Bernarda is concerned with appearances that she can not see below the surface.
-Bernarda asks whether the neighbors still gossip about Pepe el Romano’s late visits.
Bernarda wants confirmation that all is well. She does not want to be contradicted or challenged. Nevertheless, Poncia warns her. Her warning falls on deaf ears. After Bernarda leaves for bed, Poncia and the maid both point out how Bernarda is intentionally blind: she doesn’t want to see the truth, and is, perhaps incapable of seeing it.

Poncia confesses to the maid that the household is on the brink of disaster. “Well, there’s a storm brewing in every room.” Poncia blames Adela for leading Pepe el Romano on, and not the man. This is in line with all the advice and stories that have been related throughout the play: The man is not at fault. Rather it is the woman who should “ . . .know her place.”

Poncia relates, with the subtle phrase, “And other things,” that Adela and Pepe el Romano are doing more than talking. She then invokes a wish similar to that of Maria Josefa in Act 1: she wants to cross the ocean, as far away from the house of Bernarda Alba as possible.

The two, Poncia and the maid, continue gossiping about the deteriorating relationship between the sisters and the impending disaster. Adela enters, ominously at the same moment when dogs start barking,...

(The entire section is 2,256 words.)