The conflict of class and economic interests inherent in the commercial life of London poses a problem for L, which he ultimately is unable to solve. The ideal community envisioned by the poem, especially in the portion dominated by Piers, is a rural and agricultural one, in which roles are figured on the basis of feudal and manorial relationships. But whenever the poem descends to detail of social and economic life, it focuses on London. The city becomes “the lond of longyng” wherein the soul strays away from God. L’s observation of the operation of money and commerce in London is detailed, but he is only able to appropriate commercial imagery for the purposes of spiritual paradox, not to address the challenge posed by new forms of economic relationship to traditional moral arbitration.
Justice and Kerby-Fulton, Written Work: Langland, Labor and Authorship. 185-207.