Manuscript Illustration of Late Middle English Literary Texts with Special Reference to the Illustration of Piers Plowman in Bodleian Library MS Douce 104., with Special Reference to the Illustration of Piers Plowman in Bodleian Library MS Douce 104.
The illustrations of MS. Douce 104 show the illustrator (or his director) as an intelligent reader who participates in the making of the poem’s meaning. Although some illustrations (e.g., Fortune’s Wheel) depict traditional stereotypes without specific correlation in the poem, more often the illustrations follow the text with some precision (e.g., the Seven Deadly Sins). Death as a skeleton (fol. 71) refers to a passage (C.15.306) missing in the MS., and strongly suggests the influence of the exemplar. Facial expression and gesture are vividly depicted to convey a sense of text. Allegory is treated sometimes perfunctorily, sometimes in sophisticated fashion (Meed, fol. 11), while the depiction of Activa Vita (fol. 69) shows that the illustrator has included attributes found later in the text to draw out implications of the allegory through cross-referencing.