Title Background

Struggling with Will: Jangling Sloth, Sloth, and Thinking in <i>Piers Plowman</i> B.

Struggling with Will: Jangling Sloth, Sloth, and Thinking in Piers Plowman B.

The presence of PPl among treatises describing contemplative practice (e.g., in the Vernon MS.) suggests a common sense of “jangling” and “japing” in the poem as specific dangers to the contemplative life, signs of misdirection, and activity that keep the soul from coming to perfection. Jangling is an active form of sloth manifesting itself as busyness, “the distraction from the quiet focus of the will which allows it to approach the will of God.” Janglers and japers are condemned every time they are mentioned in the poem. Yet just as in Richard of St. Victor’s Benjamin Minor, where jangling can lead to a positive outcome of progress along the contemplative path, so in its manifestation as Thought in PPl it leads toward self-knowledge: the impediment to the soul posed by slothful jangling is overcome by wit, and the dreamer learns to focus his will and defeat the sins of which he had been guilty.


Vaughan, Suche Werkis to Werche. 29-52.

Cross Reference



Clifton, Linda J.