Blood Wedding (critique) (play)
Lorca's play Blood Wedding has a mythological quality in terms of its theme and text: many of the characters such as the Mother and the Bridegroom (her son) are known mainly by their roles rather than by individualized names. This gives the play a timeless, never-never-land quality. Rather than being about a specific place and time, Blood Wedding's themes of love and revenge are timeless. The play suggests that love and death are inevitably intertwined and the cycle of death and rebirth cannot be broken, no matter how hard human beings try to do so.
The story begins with the Mother reluctantly giving her son permission to marry a woman who may or may not have given up her virginity to her first fiance Leonardo. Leonardo is now married to the prospective Bride's cousin. The Mother and the Bride, for different reasons, are filled with foreboding about the match (as is the audience, given the title of the play). After the Bridegroom and the Bride wed, the false Leonardo lures away the Bride and they flee, pursued by the Bridegroom, who is determined to win back his Bride. The symbolic intensity of the play is heightened as the Bridegroom ominously encounters Death himself in the forest, who leads him to the couple. The Bride returns, alone, spattered in blood, after witnessing the death of both of her lovers. The play ends ambiguously regarding the Bride's fate.
Because of the archetypal nature of the characters, the dominant theme of Blood Wedding is that of fate. The play has an almost Greek quality to it, both in terms of the force but also the inevitable nature of its tragedy. Even the name of the play indicates that the wedding will be unhappy. The Mother, before she consents to the marriage, has a terrible sense of foreboding about the eventual union and the Bride. The Bride knows she still harbors feelings for Leonardo but goes through with the wedding anyway. The eventual fate of both men seems sealed. The characters act as if they are powerless to avoid their fates.
As tragic and strange as the wedding may seem in the eyes of the viewer, there is also a sense of 'natural' sacrifice to the final deaths. After all, death is part of life, and all lives end with death. Weddings were once thought to end with blood, namely the blood of the virgin bride upon the sheets, but given that this bride is no virgin, instead the blood that is shed is that of her lover at the hands of her husband. Some 'blood' must be shed, and if not the blood of the woman, than the blood of the men. There is a sense of circular inevitability when the Mother's greatest fears for her son the Bridegroom are realized. The presence of Death suggests that the Bridegroom at some level knows that his fate is sealed when he seeks out the Bride and Leonardo for that final, fateful encounter.
This sense of sexuality and death being united is a common theme in literature, and in some cultures an orgasm is called a 'little death' (la petite mort in French). This is not always a popular theme in contemporary literature, nor one which is necessarily resonant in modern culture, where sexuality is usually preferably viewed as something carefree. The idea that a sexual tryst between a woman and a past lover, even a bride choosing to leave after a marriage, will inevitably result in death is horrifying in literal terms. However, it does expose the raw, sexual emotions that most people living in modernity would prefer to ignore. And although the Mother's most extreme fears about her son's death are also realized, it could be argued that symbolically all children die…