In order to distinguish the character of Leonardo, and to elucidate the reasons that are responsible for his immoral and unethical action, Lorca begins the story by giving a name to his character. The characters are named simply the mother, the father, the bridegroom, the wife etc. Lorca deprives them of any individualistic roles in the society. Through this unique literary style, he wants to portray the conviction of this society wherein generic names are not important; what is more important is the mold in which the Andalusian characters are cast. The characters have to abide by the Spanish canons lest they cease to exist in the eyes of the rigid society. This dramatic device used by Lorca shows that all the other characters other than Leonardo’s are the sum total of this society. They can never dare to challenge the prevailing dogmas and the rudiments against which Leonardo, the lion rebels. Lorca’s portrayal of the character of Leonardo makes us feel that he is the only human alive in this dehumanized society. Lorca’s art of characterization shows that Leonardo is an important individual who has formed the society and not the other way round.
In order to further understand the apathetic behavior of Leonardo’s, Lorca makes the reader ponder over the role of the Catholic Church in matters that are highly personal. Lorca uses settings of a small culture, set in Spanish consciousness, wherein the society does not tolerate anyone nonconforming to its dictates. The Catholic Church does not allow divorce, and Leonardo seems to be stuck up in a wedding from which he has no escape. He has to sit and wait idly for his beloved to marry someone else. The church does not allow remarriage even. The Mother and the Father lead their lives in isolation without giving second thoughts to remarriage. Lorca through his witty remark, “To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves” gives the reader an insight into the miserable condition of Leonardo made worsened by the church. And it is the irony of Leonardo’s fate that even if he dares to break his quiet, the church will condemn him, as polygamy and divorce are a sin of the highest order.
Lorca does not provide the background that pertains to the former relationship between Leonardo and the bride. The reader has to envisage what may have been the reasons, and it is not difficult for him to guess. On the wedding day, the bride admits the depth of her attraction: “I can’t listen to you! I can’t listen to your voice! It’s as if I drank a bottle of anisette and fell asleep on a quilt of roses. And it draws me under, and I know I’m drowning, but I follow.” But love does not have any room in the heart of this callous society. As a result of this, Leonardo and the bride cannot consummate their union. Moreover there are other barriers in their way. The blood vendetta, the land and money. The hapless and woebegone Leonardo laments before the Bride “Tell me, what have I ever been to you? Look back and refresh your memory! Two oxen and a tumbledown hut are almost nothing. That’s what hurts. “All these things have robbed the couple of their intrinsic happiness. And the result: Leonardo has to marry a woman he does not love. He marries but is not able to do justice to her as in the embers of his heart lives only one woman-the bride-and he cannot forget and forsake her. He cannot harbor any emotions or love for the Wife. For Leonardo his life is for life’s sake only. He is shown as a man who has lost the battle on every front, and loiters like a ghost around the Bride’s place.
The character of Leonardo’s may appear antagonistic in the eyes of the audience. His wife is the most brutal victim of his indifference. She knows that she is a jilted woman who has no support in this male dominated world. Even in “Yerma” Lorca portrays a society in which women are subjugated and subordinated by men. Yerma is a woman who is considered fir enough to engender and bring up her children without having any right to speak to her husband Juan. The Wife says to Leonardo “One thing I do know. I’m already cast off by you. But I have a son. And another coming. And so it goes. My mother’s fate was the same.” But Leonardo does not have any soft corner for her. His relationship with he wife can be manifested by his relationship with his horse. The horse will carry him until its end during his nocturnal wanderings. Leonardo has failed in his duties toward his wife. It looks that his wife has to pay the nemesis for Leonardo’s failure in getting his beloved, the bride. But a detailed analysis of his character shows that it is not she who is suffering alone. Leonardo suffers the pangs of not only the failure of love but also that of living with a woman he does not love. He treats his wife badly because he is losing all prospects of ever getting his beloved. And to make the things worse comes the news that the Bride is marrying his inveterate enemy the Bridegroom. A psychoanalysis of his character shows that he is justified in adopting an indifferent attitude to everything around him.
Leonardo uses a number of symbols in the story to show that Leonardo is a victim of the circumstances. If “blood” in “blood wedding” is a symbol of vendetta between the Felix and bridegroom’s families, the only name in the story Leonardo, the lion, symbolizes the fate of a man who dares to challenge his destiny. He can dare to elope with the Bride even from the altar of her wedding. He is the handsome horseman, and there is no doubt that the Bride has always had a soft corner for him. But instead she has to court the Bridegroom! What could Leonardo have done against all such odds? The Bride has to consent to her wedding under the norms of the society with a man she does not love. 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. But it is too late. Leonardo the rebel can only utter “There’s no going back; hush! Because they’re encircling us and I must take you with me.” He is so deep in love with her that he is indifferent even to his impending death.
In the final scene, Lorca develops the plot on the lines of an Aristotelian tragedy wherein Leonardo and The Bridegroom await their doom brought about with the assistance of the woodcutter and the beggar woman, the symbols and agents of death. Leonardo surrenders to his destiny and holds the malignant fate guilty, “But the guilt of it isn’t mine, the guilt belongs to the earth; it is the perfume that rises from your breasts and your hair.” Leonardo’s character is shown by the playwright as torn between desire and duty, and consequently he is helpless. As a tragic hero he has to succumb to his tragic flaw of passion, and he is resolved to die with the hand of his beloved in his.
Even at the altar of death he wants to be “Anywhere where the men encircling them can’t go. Where he can gaze at her!” Leonardo pays for his indifference to the dictates of the society by his death but the root cause of this conflict, the Bride, has more torment in store for her as she survives. The Bride has to bear the incidence of Leonardo’s indifferent attitude as a husband. As per the social norms she has to mourn the loss of her husband in sheer isolation without any prospect of a shimmer of joy in her later years. Her love for Leonardo has brought the label of a whore on her head although she is as “chaste and pure as a new-born babe.” Leonardo’s indifference casts a spell on her too, and she blurts, “they can bury me without a single man ever having seen himself in the whiteness of my breasts.” This is the price which one has to pay for living in an indifferent society as shown by Lorca.