Title Background

The Figure of Repentance in <i>Piers Plowman</i>.

The Figure of Repentance in Piers Plowman.

The greatly enlarged role of Repentance in the B and C confession of the Sins is part of those revisions’ “massive shift toward a more psychological view of Christian perfection.” Only in B and C is the pattern of contritio cordis, confessio oris, and satisfactio operis fully developed, with Repentance serving as an authoritative voice to probe the sincerity of the penitents and declare what constitutes a valid confession. Moreover, his lecture to Coveitise on the necessity of restitution prepares us for the episode of Robert the Robber who, like Dismas, is a thief unable to make restitution but who may be saved nonetheless if his “sorwe” qualifies as contrition. In form Repentance’s prayer in B.5.480-505 is a collect; in content it conforms to the “biblical-creed-narrative” prayer of French romance.