Fourteenth-Century Imitatio and Piers Plowman.
Examines B.15-17 as illustrative of the pattern and process of imitation in sanctification, a trend in fourteenth-century spirituality informed by Phil. 2:5 and I John 3:2-3, 7, in which likeness through imitation of the divine model when perfectly achieved passes beyond similitude into identification. Hence the identification of Piers with Christ (B. 19.10-14), best understood as the Anointed One rather than the historical Jesus. So too for Will, who imitates Piers, as the latter is a step behind Christ: by B.16 Will has attained the state of Dowel; when Piers seeks to bring down an apple from the Tree of Charity, both characters stand for grace in varying degrees; in B.17 when Will offers himself as a servant to the Samaritan, he approaches the status of Piers as Dobet, and through imitatio he is able to pass through the selva oscura safe from the thief (the Devil). In like manner the poem puts the reader in the position of imitating the imitator Will.