Of Dogs Cawdels, Cawdels, and Contrition: A Penitential Motif in Piers Plowman.
The image of Clement the Cobler (B.5.352-57) on his knees, producing a vomit so foul no dog would lap it up, recalls the spiritual allusion of Prov. 26:11 and 2 Pet. 2:22, regularly invoked in the penitential tradition as an image of the unrepentent sinner returning to his sins. Clement’s movement this way and that, “like a glemannes bicce,” similarly recalls the dog-like motions of those who delay confession according to Fasciculus Morum. In PPl, however, the return to sin is paradoxical, for the penitential references suggest at least an awareness of the need for contrition, and Glutton, having fulfilled the prophecy by returning to the tavern, no longer transgresses.