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Lorca's House of Bernarda Alba and William's Glass Menagerie

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World Literature Assignment #2: REPRESSION AND UNATTAINABLE ESCAPE IN LORCA'S HOUSE OF BERNARDA AND WILLIAMS' GLASS MENAGERIE By Sharon Pao Word Count: 1,493 K. Lorenz Friday, February 01, 2008 IB English 12 HL Escape from repression is something everyone dreams of when repression becomes exhaustive. Characters from both modernistic plays, The House of Bernarda Alba by highly revered playwright, Federico Lorca, and The Glass Menagerie by late American author, Tennessee Williams, strive desperately in vain for escape while in a state of repression. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the repressed state of characters in the Wingfield and the Alba family, and to examine their own personal means of escape, no matter how unreal they may seem. As a mother figure in The Glass Menagerie, Amanda is quite distinctive from those in conventional dramas. With the father absent for years, Amanda takes on not only maternal nurturing responsibilities but also the paternal disciplinary role. She is a subordinate breadwinner as well as a caretaker. Yet in her attempt to fulfill this dualistic role, she encounters a series of frustrations and repressions, which provoke her to retreat into her past. In the play, what characterizes Amanda is her poignant sentiment toward her days as "a Southern belle". She believes in the myth of gracious living, family tradition and chivalry. Obsessed with the past, she frequently retells her memory as a young girl who received seventeen gentleman callers within a Sunday afternoon, to escape from her present condition. ...read more.


One cannot say for certain that leaving home even means true escape for Tom. As far as he might wander from home, something still "pursue[s]" him. Like a jailbreak, Tom's escape leads him not to freedom but to the life of a fugitive.1 Laura, given her own physical disability and intimidated temperament, finds solace in retreating to the delicate world of her glass menagerie collection and playing the music on the victrola. Her glass animals are her escape mechanism, as the movies are Tom's and the past is Amanda's. In The House of Bernarda Alba, two of the most overwhelming feelings clinging to each word and character are those of both an intense hatred and an intense fear. The fear is stifling-successfully smothering any sort of rebellion in the characters. Perhaps even deeper and more powerful than this fear, however, is the hatred. Not surprisingly, the two are often linked. But, the outward expression of both fear and hatred are found more frequently in word than in action. The play begins by it, with Lorca using the opening conversation between Poncia and the unnamed servant to begin weaving the sense of hate, heat, violence, and fear. "She crushes everything close to her" (Lorca 159), Poncia says of Bernarda, creating a perfect image to match the sense of stifling repression exerted by Bernarda and affects everyone it touches: the servants, the daughters, and the repressor herself. ...read more.


Likewise, The House of Bernarda Alba is set during the Spanish Revolution of 1936 as well as the 1930s Depression. With these contributions to the general cultural setting of the two plays, readers can more likely understand the social frustration during the time period. The audience is left with a sense of anxiety and deep concern for the well-being of each individual character as arguments fly left and right. Since both pieces of work are meant to be performed on stage, Lorca and Williams have used intense dialogue and vivid imagery to clearly illustrate the repression embedded in the plays. Both playwrights managed to present the interactions of the characters so realistically that it seemed as if we could flawlessly blend into the scenes. According to the happenings in The House of Bernarda Alba and The Glass Menagerie, escape from repression is something each character dreams about constantly. Each one searches desperately for their own personal escape route for when life is too mundane or becomes intolerable. However, none of them are capable of achieving true escape. Each escape is temporary and very much like an illusion. It is a world they create to divert themselves from reality. Every time the illusion dissolves, they find themselves once again in the world they wish to escape from. Adela seems like the only character in both plays to have found true escape. Her decision to end her own life might arguably be the only true escape owing to the fact that physical death is not an illusion; therefore she will never "wake up" to reality again. ...read more.

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