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    Role of Society and Honour codes in causing conflicts in blood wedding Essay

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    The internationally acclaimed classic “blood wedding” by Garcia Lorca is remarkable in that the writer is able to show the macrocosm of the Andalusian society through the microcosm of a real murder that took place in Nijjar in 1928. In that sensational murder case the man who had eloped with the bride was brutally murdered by his cousin. The novel at large reflects the Andalusian society that is responsible for promoting blood vendetta and honor killings in the name of the societal norms and culture. Lorca shows how the societal pressures cause conflicts between man and society, man and man, and man and god, wherein the society gets the upper hand, notwithstanding the fact that it was the individuals that created the society.

    Like other societies of the world, the Spanish society is also founded on certain tenets and dogmas when it comes to gender roles, class system, religion and familial honour. Through his powerful language, symbols and imagery, Lorca gives us a crystal clear picture of the Andalusian society that has a rigid and stern mindset on the social and cultural issues. For example, the women of this society are cast in stereotyped roles, not unlike the women living in the prehistoric times. The precursors of this man made society advocate that women be cloistered behind “thick walls” after their wedding. The perspective of this society is that the women are vulnerable creatures that can be safe only if they are incarcerated in these “caves” in the images of tamed and fettered animals. The symbols of walls and parapets not only provide them personal safety but also provide them a refuge to shield their flimsy psyches.

    Personal safety of the women is more important than their spiritual or cerebral development. The Mother prides herself in saying,” Life–that’s what they need more than anything else–life.” (Mother, page 19). The attitude of proponents of such man made laws makes the reader question the authenticity of the gender roles assigned to men and women. Contrary to the restrictions that women have to undergo, men are as free as birds to realize their pursuits. Leonardo, although married with a child, does not hesitate in persuading a woman to elope with him even from the altar of her wedding. Leonardo serves as an exemplar in this play showing the consequences of not being able to marry his beloved owing to financial crisis. The society is rigid on the equality between the marriage parties; thereby engendering conflicts in the minds of people like Leonardo who can neither marry the object of his love nor can divorce his wife.

    Patriarchy is the order of the day in such a society, and women are just considered tools of uniting two wealthy families. The parents have the ultimate authority of marrying their daughters into rich families, irrespective of the consent of the bride. The Mother …… In utter desperation the Bride wishes, she were a man so she could have more options in life. Are not the repressed emotions dangerous? But it will be too late for the society to realize it as the society is prejudiced and biased firmly when it comes to women’s right to freedom and equality.

    Lorca lashes upon the hypocrisy of the people when they want the brides to be virgins. Pre marital sex for a woman is an anathema in the scrutinizing eyes of the society. Virginity is considered a possession that can be availed by the husband alone. Losing the virginity is tantamount to robbing the future husband of his biggest assets. And no doubt the women have to endure everlasting persecution at the hands of men for their temerity. It is their nemesis since virginity is to be preserved in the name of familial honour. The deflowered woman is nothing but damaged goods that stain her family honour by not suppressing her sexuality. And there is no gainsaying that the man made honour code is the farcical sword of justice that makes the woman suffer at the hands of this cruel and unjust society.

    Like every society, the Andalusian society is formed on the pillars of religion. The Catholic Christians firmly believe in the commandments, “thou shalt not commit adultery.” In such a rigid society there is no place for divorce or remarriage. The Mother and the Father lead their lives in isolation without giving second thoughts of remarriage. But it is the irony of human kind that the Andalusian people, so governed by religious dogmas, forget the preceding commandment, “thou shalt not commit murder.” Whether it be the Spanish society or any other, honour killing is prevalent universally among all cultures and faith. And there is no doubt that Leonardo and the Bridegroom are scarified at the altar of this diabolical honour code as manifested in this society. Ego and pride engender such conflicts in their minds that will be stretched to eternity given their family feud.

    Through his work Garcia also makes the reader ponder over the role of the Catholic Church in matters that are highly personal. The playwright himself had homoerotic propensities towards other men, and it is not surprising that he was made an outcast and later murdered for harboring such passions. He is engulfed by a conflict that surfaces between him and God; as a result of which the reader questions the authority of the church in promoting the suppression of one’s sexuality. When it was the individuals that made the society, who gave society such uncanny power to decide what is good and what is evil for an individual? It appears that the “right to freedom” as declared by the Constitution is nothing but a farce in the eyes of such atavistic societies.

    Contrary to giving freedom, the society fetters the individuals beyond redemption. Blood vendetta is the order of the day in this Andalusian society, and every individual prides himself in carrying on with the generational conflict. The Mother is rendered helpless after her husband and the elder son have been butchered by the Felixes because of this vendetta running between the two families. She has suffered so much in her life that the mere notion of a knife sends shivers down her spine. She is determined to keep her son, the Bridegroom, away from this generational conflict, and blurts when her son talks of wielding a knife for cutting grapes, “The knife, the knife! Damn the knife, damn all knives, damn the devil who created knives.” (Mother, page 1). Man proposes: god disposes.

    Despite her utmost endeavors to keep son away from this inferno of vendetta, she has to thrust him to seek vengeance when it comes to her family honour, “Go. Go. Get after them. . . . No, don’t go. That family’s so ready to kill and so hardened to it — but go, yes, go. I’ll follow them.” (Mother, page 48). She knows the outcome of perpetuating such vendetta. But her character is a example of a person pulverized by the societal pressures. Did she not say earlier in the play, “I wish you were a woman? You’d not go to the river now, and we would sit and sew.” Her Wish that her son were a daughter, paradoxically, gives the reader a glimpse of the society based on the absurd societal codes and conventions. And it is obvious that her son and Leonardo will pay the price of carrying out the generational conflict, as both of them are killed with the same knife in order to restore their honour: for Leonardo it was his love and for the bridegroom it was his duty.

    Lorca has portrayed this real story as a tragedy of unrequited love. Given the superficial norms of the society the bride is not allowed to marry a person who is below her social sanding. Love, concern and affection have no place in this society. All that matters here are codes of conduct as defined by the society. The bride has to consent to her wedding, as she does not have any say in the matter concerning her wedding. How ironic! The bride is the greatest sufferer in the society as she is to blame for whatever she does. If she elopes with Leonardo and marries him, it will be a family disgrace. And if she marries the Bridegroom repressing all her emotion she is no more than a living corpse as every breath of hers heaves the name of Leonardo. The conflict she faces cannot be resolved, and hence she is prepared to face the doom. She asks Leonardo to leave her after her elopement or help her commit suicide knowing fully well the repercussions of her elopement. Desperate, frantic and woebegone she sees no ray of hope, and whimpers, “I wish I were a man.” (Bride, page 21.) It is possible that if she were born a man, she might escape the circumstance wherein she was crushed by the internal and external forces.

    Murder, revenge, vengeance are the outcries when the people come to know of the accursed elopement. Propelled by the desire of restoring his family honour, the bridegroom chases the absconding couple. Lorca here develops the plot on the lines of an Aristotelian tragedy where Leonardo and The Bridegroom await their doom brought about with the assistance of the woodcutter and the beggar woman.

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