Mirrors and Trajectories of Vision in Piers Plowman.
The two dreams of C.11-13 epitomize a movement from self-examination to a vision of divine order, as a narcissistic mirror is transformed into an upwardly focused one that reflects universal order. Will comes to the first mirror of Middle Earth distant from true self-understanding, yet situated in the context of intellectual pursuit of truth. But while the scene of the inner dream, the lond of longyng, represents the dreamer’s “radical entry into himself,” his own participation in sin is exposed. The mirror of Fortune offers no transcendent vision, and the dominant voice of C. 12 is that of Recklessness. But the dreamer comes to understand the transience of worldly pleasures as he becomes attached to Covetise, and Kynde’s mirror manifests the recognition of a world governed by Reason, while it also depicts the discordances that arise from humanly generated disorder; and Will irrationally blames Reason, not individual volition, for illicit conduct. Nonetheless, the inner vision has led to the salutary meeting with Imaginatif. Will must dream further, until the third vision’s revelations can be known as kyndely and put into action. His situation perhaps mirrors that of the Christian poet in attempting to reconcile the authority of doctrinal truth with the need to represent life autobiographically and experientially.