The Spanish Language Blog

Let's talk a little bit about Spanish literature today. The works of Federico García Lorca not only represent masterful writing, but they also play an important role in Spain's cultural history.

Blood Wedding or Bodas de Sangre was written by the famed Spanish writer in 1932, the play is a tragedy and was the first part in the three works making up Lorca’s “rural tragedies”, alongside Yerma and La Casa de Bernarda Alba.

  • The play is full of dark symbolism, and deals with themes such as loss, death and transience.
  • It is suggested that Bodas de Sangre was inspired by a newspaper article reporting the story of a Bride who ran away with her lover on the night of her wedding.

Bodas de Sangre

The narrative is fairly simple; at the beginning of the play, a neighbor informs the mother of a bridegroom that the girl soon to marry her son was once romantically involved with a man called Leonardo Felix. This deeply unsettles the Mother due to a long standing feud with the Felix family, who were responsible for the premature deaths of her son and husband. On the morning of the wedding, Leonardo reveals his continuing desires to the Bride, and it is clear the Bride reciprocates. Later on the same day, just before the traditional wedding dance, it comes to light that the two have eloped, and the Groom is driven out into the forest to follow them in a fit of incandescence. The Mother of the Groom demands the wedding party follow suit in search of the Bride and Leonardo. Meanwhile, in the forest, three woodcutters appear and warn Leonardo that he will soon be caught if the moon shines. The play then takes a symbolic turn, with the moon itself appearing to foretell that before the night is over, blood will have been shed. A beggar standing as a metaphor for death then appears to predict the same outcome, eerily demanding that the moon shines brightly.  Death, now disguised differently, leads the Groom to Leonardo, despite warnings from the wedding party to turn back. After two screams are heard, the beggar and the moon come back as the scene ends; the Groom and Leonardo have murdered one another. It is assumed that the play ends with the Bride being killed to restore the honor of her family, yet some critics consider the Mother spares the Bride‘s death so that she must live to experience the pain of her loss.

As is the case with much of Lorca’s work, the play explores themes related to the human condition, the notion of time, the natural cycle of life and the idea of choice and inevitability. Such themes are widely considered both universal and pertinent, explaining the contemporary relevance of Lorca’s works. However, it could equally be argued that the play is a disguised critique of the conventions of Spanish society at the time of writing, the gossiping neighbors who gather to discuss the events towards the end of the play perhaps a demonstration of the importance of keeping up appearances in 20th Century Spain. It is worth noting too, that the characters in Bodas de Sangre are not given names, with the exception of Leonardo himself. The characters are instead referred to by their titles; la madre, el novio, la novia, la vecina.

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