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How does imagery, in Federico Garcia Lorca’s play, Yerma, define the story’s protagonist, Yerma?
Subject: English HL A2 Name: Abhineet Kumar Candidate Number: 060 Center Number: 000763 Word Count:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the International Baccalaureate Diploma – 2008 -2010
Where home could possibly be the one place she escapes her issues. in a society that relies on motherhood. Considering this." as Yerma's husband describes. Through her own will. With this. but also within the orthodox Spanish society that she lives in and everything within it. Yerma is deeply entrapped not only within herself as she is hopeless in her endeavors. The structure of Spanish society. Her position in this kind of society is therefore almost stagnant: "The sheep in the fold and women at home. In this way. making diapers. is illustrated vividly through imagery. it is the use of imagery that most vividly and accurately defines who Yerma is. but within the demanding society she lives in. Lorca uses various literary techniques to accentuate the remote characteristics of Yerma. In a discussion with Juan. pain and entrapment Yerma feels not only herself. she carries within herself tragedy. fertility and infertility. ultimately fail. She simply spends her days sitting at home working on her sewing machine. As a result. Barren. and are all precise characteristics of the play’s protagonist: Yerma. her character is defined through imagery of nature. In the very village she lives in. with its strong implementation of tradition. This is evident by the remarks of the laundresses. she will feel like she hasn’t moved at all for in each direction she looks is the same thing (69). Yerma states how she “never goes out”. much like meaning of her name and much like the cursed fig tree which bore no fruit. However. creates a duty for its women which obligates them to be mothers. . but does so in vain as her efforts to become a mother. give birth to the crops that grow within it. deserted.How Does Imagery Define Yerma? Sometimes. In Federico Garcia Lorca’s play. The town Yerma lives in and the people within it can be considered a form of entrapment on her behalf. Yerma. To be childless in the society she lives in amount to a kind of isolation which has no cure. Lorca emphasizes the use of imagery to create Yerma’s character. she decides to surround herself even in her home with things that remind of her children. As a result. All of the longing. is in reality quite the opposite. Juan. the very house she lives in is a metaphor for her entrapment. she is surrounded by images of loneliness and entrapment everyday. She is a woman trapped in an infertile relationship with her husband. she is trapped within fields of and fields of fertile land that in a sense. and unproductive are all definitions of “yermo”. she has to try and keep herself happy everyday when she goes out and see’s her neighbors carrying their babies about. who consider childless Yerma a most unfortunate woman. In addition to the setting she is surrounded by. she is reminded everyday of the creation of life. So. The only way for her to leave or to break through her isolation is past the mountains that would virtually be impossible to get across. instead of a child. the protagonist’s name originates from the Spanish word “yermo”. The rural landscape of vast fields of wheat and grain all enclosed by tall “mountains of ice” illustrate the fact that wherever she goes. a person can be defined by his or her name. Yerma struggles to fight this tragedy. birth. In addition. she finds her womb to be dry and isolated.
She see’s a cradle. she will in a way decay and gradually die. pain. are you going to come?” She describes herself as “broken” and “torn” and with an “empty cradle” and a womb that “aches” for a child. is made in such a way that once she is fixed with a man. Juan can be described as a wall at which all of Yerma’s efforts are cast to hopelessly. After Yerma’s heated conversation with her husband. She then questions. possibly the highest form of femininity can be described as “a basket of flowers and sweet scents”. It is evident with this that she desires to give birth and to nurture one almost as if it were her destiny. The society she lives in. The flower imagery can be seen as a symbolization of the process of birth . she is well aware of the fact that he de has no desire to have children. but it is a “good pain” that’s worth seeing a child grow up healthily. the lighting changes to “the cheerfulness of a spring morning”. In a conversation with one of her friends Maria. as it will with (her)”. and you offer me a tiny glass of spring water. this directly conveys her pain and longing to have a child. and a good reputation among the people of his town. What further reinforces the fact that she is entrapped is that illicit love is unthinkable. Yerma converses with a “Pegan Old Woman”. Yerma suffers from deeply enrooted feelings of longing. money. only peace. This further emphasizes her pain and almost an acceptance of the fact that she will never have what she needs. She continues to describe how every woman has “enough blood for for our five children and if she doesn’t have them. and simply wants a peaceful life. but it is empty and wishes for it to one day hold a child. “When. In second act of the first scene. She longs for a son from her own womb. it would be a matter of loosing all honor and dignity if she were to cheat on him. The fact that she says the blood within a woman will turn into poison.Yerma’s husband can be seen as a symbol of entrapment in her life. one that she will be able to take care of and sing tender lullabies to. Much of Yerma’s emotions and characteristics can be defined through sexual imagery and dialogue. and desire. explains that if she doesn’t have a child. she discusses how having children does indeed cause suffering and pain. Towards the end of the play. it turns to poison. Throughout the entire play. It is useless for her to argue with Juan as he wants no children. Yerma says to the old woman: “I am like a dry field where a thousand pairs of oxen plow. Unlike most of the imagery in the play. It begins with a “dreamlike light” in which a shepherd leaves her with a child.” The usage of imagery here perfectly sums up Yerma’s feelings of entrapment as the wounds she suffers from not being able to be a mother are almost incurable. The opening dream sequence is a perfect example of this. and maternity. What this imagery introduces to the audience is the fact that simply having a child for Yerma would illuminate and make her life happy. Mine is a sorrow already be-yond the flesh. At this point. she is confronted with the concept of maternity. my child. it is quite evident that Yerma is an extraordinarily beautiful woman and this is reinforced with the fact that the old woman describes her as a “flower in bloom” and a “creature of such beauty” (77). At this very moment. The softness and smoothness of a flower is feminine. as even in her dreams she can’t escape her desire to have children. These feelings are further developed inside her as almost everywhere she goes.
but sure. Now I really know it for sure. who tells Yerma of a history of barrenness in Juan’s family. This can be see as an act of abandoning her suffering but leaves her with a different kind of pain: “Yerma: Barren.. The pain she suffers is more powerful than any conviction she has in herself and this way it can be considered that her womb will always stay “dry”. All of her efforts to imply be who she needed to be in society go in vain. Yerma can be considered a victim of her own misfortune. As a last hope. Don't come near me. Yerma goes to a mountain shrine popular with childless women..as it relates to how it was believed that “God came down from heaven to Earth” and “left a seed to blossom”. barren. is suspicious of her motives and outraged by her presence there. It is important to consider that Yerma describes her breasts as “two teeming springs I have of warm milk. she will never blossom. in the closeness of my flesh. who has followed her. . I have killed my son myself... The fact that he is infertile is suggested by the gossip of an old woman. be-cause I have killed my son. And what this ultimately suggests about Yerma’s character is that really she didn’t have the opportunity to define herself.. A society that avoided finding a place for her.. Juan.. but instead turned her into someone she was not meant to be.. At the end of the play. realizing her marriage has lost the only meaning it ever had for her. strangles her husband in desperation.” In murdering Juan she has killed her only hope or a son. And alone.. her fate was predetermined through the oppressive society she lived in. However.” as it portrays her sense of knowing that she will be a great mother. Yerma. the fact is that her situation is quite hopeless and in terms of imagery. My body dry forever! .
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