By the turn of the seventeenth century, the auto sacramental quickly became the most elaborate dramatic genre in Spain. Shortly after the Council of Trent, professional playwrights replaced clerics who had previously written autos for the Corpus Christi celebrations held each year, but none were more influential than Lope de Vega in refining thematic, literary, and staging elements and techniques. At the middle of the nineteenth century, critics began to study the genre that a royal decree had banned almost a century earlier; however, few have dedicated much time to Lope's autos. As a result, most critics have misunderstood Lope's contributions to the genre. This study addresses some of the issues that scholars have particularly misunderstood or ignored, namely, Lope's treatment of the Eucharistic theme in his autos, the level of dramatic unity displayed in his Corpus Christi plays, and the contribution of spectacle to the overall performance. Using a textual analysis of three of Lope's autos, I conclude that Lope could and did write profound, unified liturgical plays designed to disseminate Catholic dogma in an effective and entertaining manner. Each of the three autos used in this study, Las aventuras del Hombre, El viaje del Alma, and Los dos ingenios y esclavos, presents a protagonist representing mankind, who must learn to disregard evil influences faced in mortality and turn to Christ and the Eucharist for salvation. These elaborate liturgical performances, whose budgets exceeded those of the popular comedias of the day, all took place in city plazas around the country. In order to understand the deserved popularity that Lope's autos clearly enjoyed in their original setting, scholars need to return to the texts themselves and not merely rely on criticism.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



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auto sacramental, autos, Spain, Golden Age, Lope de Vega, theater, drama, Viaje del Alma, Aventuras del Hombre, Dos ingenios y esclavos, stage machinery, Eucharist, unity, unified allegory, Council of Trent, spectacle, Corpus Christi, Spanish, liturgy