The Formation of Forgiveness in Piers Plowman
This essay shows that the C text articulates difficulties with the process of learning to forgive, a process that for medieval Christians requires mutuality and participation in the sacrament of penance. Tracing the terms forgeue and forgeueness through the poem, the essay draws out examples of medieval agents participating in the craft of forgiveness with varying degrees of inadequacy when compared with Jesus Christ, the embodiment of forgiveness. It focuses on two versions of community in the poem: the political model of forgiveness in the Meed sequence and the community of sacramental practice that emerges later. Learning to distinguish among the renderings of forgiveness, from advocating it to seeking it to embodying it, is central to the process of this experiential poem, because it demands the recognition and naming of the debilitating effects of sin. (RD; adapted from the journal’s abstract)
Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 40 (2010), 273-97.