Blood Wedding (play)

Blood Wedding (play)

"Blood Wedding" ("Bodas de Sangre") is a play by the Spanish dramatist Federico García Lorca. It was written in 1932 and first performed in 1933. "Blood Wedding" is the first play of García Lorca's trilogy of rural tragedies. "Yerma" and "The House of Bernarda Alba" are the second and third plays, respectively, of the trilogy.


At the beginning of the play, the Mother speaks with her son, and it is revealed that the son's father had been killed a few years ago by a family named the Felixes. The Mother reacts violently when her son attempts to ask for a knife for protection, going onto a long rant before finally relenting and giving him the knife. Eventually, the son leaves, after hugging his mother goodbye.

The Neighbour arrives to chat with the Mother, and reveals to her that the Bride was previously involved with a man named Leonardo Felix, a relative of the men who killed the Mother's husband and son. The Mother, who still hates the Felix family with all her soul, is furious, but decides to visit the girl before bringing the matter up with her son.

Leonardo, who is now married, returns to his home after work, where his Mother-In-Law and Wife have been singing a lullaby to Leonardo's son. (The lullaby's lyrics foreshadow the tragedies that will occur later in the play.) It is clear that Leonardo's marriage is not a joyous one. A Little Girl enters the house and tells the family that the Groom is preparing to marry the Bride. Leonardo flies into a rage, scaring his Wife, Mother-In-Law, and child, and storms out of the house.

The Mother goes to the Bride's house, along with the Groom, where she meets the Bride's Servant and the Father of the Bride. The Father, an old, tired man, tells the Mother of his dead wife and his desire to see his daughter marry and bear children. The Bride enters, and speaks with the Mother and the Groom. The Father then shows them out, leaving the Servant with the Bride. The Servant teases the Bride about the gifts that the Groom brought, then reveals to her that Leonardo has been coming to the house at night to watch the Bride's window.

That night, Leonardo comes to see the Bride again. He speaks of his burning desire for her, and the pride that kept him from marrying her before. The Bride, clearly disturbed by his presence, attempts to silence him, but cannot deny that she still has feelings for him. The Servant sends Leonardo away, and the guests begin arriving for the wedding. The Father, Mother, and Groom arrive, and the wedding party moves to the church. Before the party leaves, however, the Bride begs the Groom to keep her safe. Leonardo and his Wife go as well, after a short and furious argument.

After the wedding, the guests, the families, and the newlywed couple return to the Bride's house. The party progresses, with music and dancing, but the Bride retires to her rooms, claiming to feel tired. Leonardo's Wife tells the Groom that her husband left on horseback, but the Groom brushes her off, saying that Leonardo simply went for a quick ride. The Groom returns to the main room and speaks with his Mother. The guests then begin searching for the Bride and Groom, hoping to begin a traditional wedding dance. But the Bride is nowhere to be found. The Father orders the house searched, but Leonardo's Wife bursts into the room and announces that her husband and the Bride have run off together. The Father refuses to believe, but the Groom flies into a rage and rides off with a friend to kill Leonardo. The Mother, frenzied and furious, orders the entire wedding party out into the night to search for the runaways, as the Father collapses in grief.

Out in the forest (to which Leonardo and the Bride have fled), three Woodcutters emerge to discuss the events (in a manner somewhat similar to that of a Greek chorus, except that they speak to each other, not to the audience). They reveal that the searchers have infiltrated the entire forest, and that Leonardo, who is, after all, carrying a woman, will be caught soon if the moon comes out. As the moon emerges from behind the clouds, they flee the stage.

The Moon, who is very powerful and godlike, talks to the forest and tells the trees of his desire to let blood be shed in order to punish mankind for shutting him out of their homes, and confesses his loneliness, but is still furious. He shines his mystic light on the forest, illuminating the paths for the searchers. She is joined by Death personified. They plot to kill the two men and let blood be shed. The blood thirsty conniving moon then departs in a very sinister way.

The Groom, still caught up in fury, enters along with a Youth from the wedding party. The Youth is disturbed by the dark forest and urges the Groom to turn back, but the Groom refuses, vowing to kill Leonardo and reclaim his Bride. Death, disguised as an old beggar, enters, telling the Groom that she has seen Leonardo and can lead the Groom to him. The Groom and Youth exit with her.

Elsewhere in the forest, Leonardo and the Bride discuss their future together. Both are filled with romantic angst, and consumed by their burning, unsustainable love for each other passion like no other is shed between the two of them.The Bride begs Leonardo to flee, but he refuses. The couple hears footsteps- the Groom and Death coming near. Leonardo exits, and two screams ring out in the darkness.The two men have killed each other.

In the town, the women (including Leonardo's Wife and Mother-In-Law) have gathered near the church to whisper of the events. Death arrives in the disguise of the beggar woman and announces that doom has visited the forest, then departs. The Mother enters the church, full of anger and black bitterness, only to see the Bride returning, her white dress covered in the blood of her lovers, who killed each other in the forest. Presumably, (although this is never explicitly stated, and it happens after the play's end) the bride is afterwards killed as a sacrifice to restore the family's honor. However different plays of this suggest different ideas about what happened to the bride as my copy says that the mother kept her alive as it was more punishable to live with the pain.


*La Madre - The Mother
*La Novia - The Bride
*La Suegra - The Mother-in-law
*La Mujer De Leonardo - Leonardo's wife
*La Criada - The Maid
*La Vecina - The Neighbour (woman)
*Muchachas - Girls
*El Novio - The Groom
*El Padre De La Novia - The Father of The Bride
*La Luna - The Moon
*La Muerte (como mendiga) - Death (as a beggar)
*Leñadores - Woodcutters
*Mozos - Boys

Like the other plays by Lorca that form part of his rural trilogy the majority of the characters within "Blood Wedding" are women.


Like many other of Lorca's plays and poetry, "Blood Wedding" is filled with symbolism. The characters of The Moon and Death are examples of the personification of symbols (whereby an abstract force or concept is embodied as a particular dramatic character).Other symbols include the orange blossoms, which represent innocence and the sanctity of wedding vows, and the color white, which represents purity. The "azahar" (orange blossom) is a white flower that symbolizes the virginity of La Novia.Within the play symbolism is apparent within characterization, lighting, sound, set, staging, structure and props. Lorca also frequently repeats words and images, such as "plata" (silver), "ramas" (branches or bouquets), "paloma" (dove), in addition to frequently referencing horses, roundness and wheels, and laurel trees.The lullaby in the second scene foreshadows events to come

La Nana

Suegra: This is the lullaby, my child, of the great horse who didn’t want the water. The water was dark through the tangled branches. When the horse arrived at the bridge, he stopped and sang. What will he say, my child, that which has the water, with his long tail in the green pen?

Mujer: Sleep carnation, the horse does not want to drink.

Suegra: Sleep rosebush. The horse begins to cry. His hooves are injured, his mane is frozen, and in his eyes are silver daggers. His eyes lower to the river. Oh, how they lower to the river. Blood flows much stronger than water.

Mujer: Sleep carnation, the horse does not want to drink.

Suegra: Sleep rosebush, the horse begins to cry.

Mujer: He does not want to touch the wet edge of his hot lip with silver flies. Despite the hard mounts he only whinnies at the dead river. Oh the big horse did not want the water. Oh the pain of the snow, the horse of dawn.

Suegra: Don’t come further! Stop. Close the window with the branches of dreams, and dream of branches. Mujer: My son sleeps.

Suegra: My son is quite.

Mujer: The horse, my son, has no pillow.

Suegra: His cradle is of steel.

Mujer: His bedspread is of holanda (very fine cloth).

Suegra: Lullaby my child, lullaby.

Mujer: Oh, the big horse didn’t want the water!

Suegra: Don’t come further, don’t enter! Look to the mountains, to the grey valleys of the ponies.

Mujer: My son sleeps.

Suegra: My son has fallen asleep.

Mujer: Sleep carnation, the horse does not want to drink.

Suegra: Sleep rosebush, the horse begins to cry.


The main themes of the play are death, individualism vs. society as well as women's role in society. The significance of death in the play is directly linked to the mother in two ways, firstly that death is not only the inevitable ending of life and the death of someone in a physical and mental form but also the death they experience in their relationships with other human beings. Secondly, death is also shown as death in life, a life in which there is nothing more to live for due to the severe limitations placed on your life as well as the losses you have experienced throughout your life. This also brings up the question "Is it better to be dead and apart than alive and apart?" with reference to the Bride and Leonardo. The theme of the Individual vs. Society is represented by Leonardo and the Bride's decision to run away, not only does this throw off the balance of society but it also shows the sympathy that Lorca shows towards change and beings going against the norms of society. Finally the theme of women and their role in society is shown by the women being confined to the house and the idea of the "thick walls" of a house created by a woman. In addition to this it is also represented by the path the Bride is required to take of being owned by her father and then being passed on as a possession of the Bridegroom. The horse is also a theme in Lorca's writing; it represents Leonardo and his actions.

Editions available

García Lorca, Federico - "Bodas de sangre" (Alianza Editorial, S.A.) ISBN 84-206-6101-5
García Lorca, Federico - "Bodas de sangre" (Ediciones Catedra, S.A.) ISBN 84-376-0560-1
García Lorca, Federico - "Bodas de sangre" (Ediciones Colihue SRL) ISBN 950-581-110-1


Opera: a generally well-regarded version, "Vérnász", by Hungarian composer Sandor Szokolay, was first produced in Budapest in 1964 and has seen scattered performances since. The play was also turned into a German opera by Wolfgang Förtner called "'Die Bluthochzeit".'

The play was adapted into a Spanish film in 1938, with Margarita Xirgu repeating her stage role.

In 1981, Spanish film director Carlos Saura directed a dance film inspired by the play (also entitled "Blood Wedding").

A 2006 Haitian operatic re-adaptation of the play, titled "Le Maryaj Lenglensou", was produced by Dutch filmmaker Hans Fels, with a score by Haitian composer Iphares Blain. A documentary on the production by Fels premiered at the 2007 Netherlands Film Festival. []


The play, retitled "Bitter Oleander", had a brief run in an English translation on Broadway in 1935. Beatrice Straight made her Broadway debut in this version.

External links

* The text of the original play can be found here: [] (in Spanish)
* A very useful study guide for GCE A-level (England) can be found here: [] . It is written in English, although quotations are in the original Spanish.

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