Although critics differ in their classification of Marian autos, several of Calderón's autos have a strong Marian component. One constant in these autos is the use of the "mujer fuerte" symbol. This is a reference to the popular iconographc image of the Virgin Mary trampling the head of a serpent or dragon. This image in turn derived from references to Genesis 3:15 and to Revelation 12. In the former a mistranslation refers to a woman who will bruise the head of the serpent, while the latter narrates the apocalyptic vision of a woman doing battle with a dragon that seeks to devour her child. It is this imagery that explains the strange auto entitled ¿Quien hallará mujer fuerte? The title of that auto is taken from Proverbs 31:10 which also involves an interesting mistranslation. Its heroine, the Old Testament character Jael, prefigures the Virgin Mary. Other autos, La primer flor del Carmelo, Las espigas de Ruth, and Primero y segundo Isaac demonstrate how their heroines, the Old Testament women Abigail, Ruth, and Rebecca, also prefigure the Virgin Immaculate. These autos, as well as La hidalga del valle, all make use of the iconographic symbol of a mujer fuerte to support the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception whose concrete image is that of a woman triumphing over the devil. The autos all depict women in the role of conquerors over the ancient enemy, and thus, strong women. (MKA)


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pp. 307-318
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