After the death of her husband, Bernarda Alba imposes a traditional mourning period of eight years on her household. Bernarda has always ruled her home with an iron fist and kept her five daughters on "short chains." Now that she is the sole dictator, her daughters are left with little escape from her oppression.
As a consequence of their father's death, the eldest daughter is left wealthy, while the younger sisters are left with little. This new wealth attracts a suitor, which ignites jealousy and passion among the sisters whom have never been allowed a romance of their own. Each of the sisters copes with their mother's violence, their sisters' jealousy and their repressed desires in her own way, but when the youngest decides to break free at all costs, her actions threaten to destroy them all.