Ellen Humphreys’ project deals with tragic female protagonists, comparing Spanish and Mexican literature, and their film adaptations. Her texts were Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate and the 1992 adaptation and Federico Garcia Lorca’s play “La Casa Bernarda Alba” and various adaptations of it. There are similarities in the settings of the novels, despite the difference in the location, through political revolution and the social context.
Humphreys looks at two female characters, Adela from “La Casa Bernarda Alba,” the youngest sister in a family who wants to get married to her sister’s fiance and Tita, the youngest daughter with a talent for cooking who wants to marry her sister’s fiance. The mothers of both girls represent the old, oppressive governments of the country. Both women try to control destinies but fail because of mechanisms outside of their control, and ultimately die at their own hands.
The similarities between the situations of the two tragic heroines, across spaces and times, is striking. Both women are manipulated by the institutions surrounding them and unsuccessfully attempt to remove themselves from their social situations and mother, making them tragic heroes.