Lady Meed Pardons, Pardons, and the Piers Plowman Visio.
Sees the Visio as a well-intentioned but short-sighted attempt to reform human society rationally. Lady Meed cannot be thought of simply as an unflattering contrast to Holy Church; she is instead a morally neutral figure whose incestuous marriage to False is considered by Theology as the loss of a potential force for good, the “mede mesureless” of God’s mercy. Piers and his family enter the poem manifesting a reduction of the God-man relationship to a system of contractual obligations, a religious system of “mesurable hire.” Piers’s reaction to the pardon shows he realizes that the “ideal social order” of the court is at variance with God’s order. God owes no one “mesurable hire”; God’s justice cannot be understood or defined, but only because God is “unjustly, measurelessly merciful.”
Mediaevalia 8 (1985 [for 1982]): 239-57.
Russell, J. Stephen.