Throughout the play "Blood Wedding" by Frederico Lorca, the theme of individuals against their society is ever-present. How does Lorca's use of the setting contribute to this theme?
In light of the time period in which that play is set, more meaning in relationship with the discussed theme becomes apparent. The fact that that the play is based on a time in which social interaction is the main past-time, underlines the inhabitants tendency to discuss every single social detail in the form of gossip. An example of this can be seen in the second scene of the first act, where the news of the bridegrooms purchase of stockings circulates in a short matter of time: "The groom came to the store and he's bought the best of everything they had (…) and such extravagance!" "(…) they bought some open-work stockings!". This scrutinization and thorough discussion of everyone's activities creates an atmosphere full of social tension. Because the norms of a society are based on the general opinions of its population, this constant gossip creates a judgment filled environment, eliminating people's individuality.
When considering the area in which the inhabitants of the society described by Lorca live, the most underlined feature of the setting is the unbearable heat. Evidence for this is found at the end of the first scene: "Mother: Have you ever seen such a hot sun? / Neighbor: The children carrying the water out to the reapers are black with it." The first meaning the heat brings forth is the presence of an immensely large social tension. Social tension, as previously discussed, increases the awareness of social irregularity. Social irregularity however, is exactly what makes something individual. This is one way in which Lorca highlights this constant struggle between society and individuality throughout the play.
The location at which the house of the bride is situated also hints towards the theme. The house being a cave, seated hours away from the nearest town, surrounded by "wasteland", does not give a choice to the audience but to immediately think of seclusion. As women in this time period never had a truly independent position, the seclusion in the case of the bride can be seen as involuntary. This inflexibility therefore gives rise to the idea of an individual being suppressed by the society it lives in. In addition to the distance, the fact that the Bride lives in a cage, despite its practical use, reminds of confinement.
The stage set-up of each scene, specifically when looking at its color, can reflect upon the theme being discussed in this essay. When looking at the first act of the play, the scenes are opened with a rose like ambience: "A room painted rose(…)" (A1, S2),"(…) rose-colored flowers (…) rose-colored ties" (A1, S3). Lorca may have done this t convey a message to the reader through the color on the set. Rose, with its many different shades has many different meanings, such as desire, love at first sight, enthusiasm, fascination, admiration and many more. In this case, the positive idea of the remaining possibility of the consented union of Leonardo and the bride may be what Lorca is trying to represent with the colorful setting. This correlation can be verified by taking the subsequent act into consideration. Simply by looking at the stage directions again, one can see a dramatic change in the color of the setting: "(…) white petticoats (…) white bodice." (A2, S1), "in white, grey, and cool blue tones." (A2, S2). White, being a much staler and lifeless color, radiates a feeling of emptiness and hopelessness. This again, is synchronized with the disposition of the Bride and Leonardo. As the wedding draws nearer and nearer, the possibility of their union decreases and the color of the setting become staler. Because, as previously determined, the union of the Bride and Leonardo would represent the triumph of individuals over their society, Lorca emphasizes this theme through his use of color.
Even though the stage set-up of the first scene of the third act was exempted, it does have a meaning worth discussing. During the first half of the play, Lorca continually addresses the surrounding as dry, barren and desolate. This is all while the Bride and Leonardo are separated, which can be seen as the time when society reigns over the individuals. When they both run away together, and individuality temporarily triumphs over society, the vegetation makes a sudden jump to a more fruitful and green atmosphere: "A forest. It is night-time. Great moist tree trunks". This stage set-up of the first scene of the third act clearly creates a different setting to the one experienced in the first two acts. Specifically the way Lorca describes the tree trunks as "moist" reminds of the idea that water is a way of symbolizing life. At first, when the desires of the individual weren't fulfilled, the setting was dry, and therefore lifeless. When in the third act the individual's desires are temporarily satisfied, the setting becomes vegetated, "moist", and full life.
The contrast between the lighting in the time before and after their flight is also closely related to Lorca's message on the individuals against society. Before they run away together, the play is strongly lit. Once they fly, Lorca decides to make the play dark, as can be seen at the beginning of the third act: "it is night-time". By considering light as the agreement of society with the current actions, the change in the lighting is given meaning beyond the mysticism it adds to the scene. The darkness of the setting can therefore symbolize the society's disagreement with the actions of the Bride and Leonardo. This is furthermore accentuated by the reintroduction of light as soon as society's norms are met again through the murder of Leonardo: "(…) white dwelling (…) white stairs". Although Lorca does not directly state that the setting is relit, the fact that he demands that "there should no be a single grey or any shadow" implies a very bright stage.
Through the same logic, one could argue for the notion of the setting using white color when the characters conform to the norms of the society. This can be seen throughout the second act, when the wedding begins to approach: "(…) wearing ruffled white petticoats (…) and a sleeveless white bodice". White, in this sense, could be seen as social purity. After a short interruption by the escape of the two protagonists, the white setting returns with the death of Leonardo. In the early twentieth century in Spain the penalty for such a social crime would be the execution of the male, which is exactly what was done to Leonardo. Once the consequences are met, the social purity returns, along with the white setting.
In conclusion, it is certain that Lorca's choice of the setting is closely tied to this theme throughout the whole play. His use of, color, light, location, vegetation and climate all emphasize this message that he is trying to convey throughout. It is very understandable to argue that the setting may not be the strongest contributed to the conveyance of this theme, as the plot is is even richer with references to individuals and their society. However, it is undeniable that the setting is closely related to this theme.