Robert the Ruyflare and His Companions
The significant revisions of AB in C.6 involve a series of doublings. Robert the Ruyflare (formerly Robert þe robbour) is paired with a new character, a second penitent thief 3euan-3elde-a3eyn who, unlike Robert, is capable of labor and hence lacks Robert’s good intent. The introduction (C.6.306-08) of the prostitute who can tithe contrasts with the usurer. WL similarly doubles his clerical figures, adding the priest of C.6.300-05 to the preexisting B- text friar; whereas both Robert and 3euan surrender all to follow Reddite, these figures engage in direct economic competition and both are shown inefficacious in helping Christians toward salvation through penitential discipline. The C-text Covetise exhibits no advance toward responsible Christian activity; Repentance’s penitential warning instills largely a terrified sorrow, “incapable of any power and so despicable as potentially to rebuff God himself.” The only efficacious penitential acts in the revision, those of Robert and 3euan, are the products of God’s grace, outside institutional penitential discourse.
Newhauser and Alford, eds., Literature and Religion in the Later Middle Ages. 81-96.
Hanna, Ralph, III