Title Background

Penance as Poetry in the Late Fourteenth Century.

Penance as Poetry in the Late Fourteenth Century.

Explores how the Gawain-poet, Langland, and Chaucer deal poetically (rather than only theologically) with the penitential tradition. In both PPl and SGGK repentance operates on an individual and “helps him to grow from that existential point.” In PPl switching from personified abstractions to naturalistic representations is necessary to portray the consistent action of grace in the world. Piers is the sign of regenerate man; the visions of Dowel, Dobet, and Dobest correspond with the judgments of Arthur, Bertilak, and Gawain, respectively; and at the end of these poems both Gawain and Conscience continue a spiritual quest that shows progress through penance.


Kratzmann and Simpson, eds., Medieval Religious and Ethical Literature, 179-91.

Cross Reference



Wall, John.