Title Background

The Dismas Distinctio and the Forms of <i>Piers Plowman</i> B.10-13.

The Dismas Distinctio and the Forms of Piers Plowman B.10-13.

Will’s example of Dismas, the saved thief on the cross (B.10.420-33) -cited in an argument against overly concerning oneself with salvation-must be addressed before the Dreamer’s spiritual education can proceed. However, the exegesis offered by Imaginatif (12.192-212) is itself limited, and parallels the attitudes of the unreliable jeweler of Pearl and the pilgrim Dante, both in need of instruction in the doctrine of the equality of heavenly rewards. In B.13 WL corrects Imaginatif’s position by relegating Will and Patience (the most deserving of guests) to a side table at the feast, where Patience is perfectly satisfied. In 13.436-48 WL completes the restoration of Dismas by showing that the highest and lowest sit together at the best and most proper of spiritual banquets.