The Manor the Plowman, the Plowman, and the Shepherd: Agrarian Themes and Imagery in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance English Literature.
Pp. 21-106.: WL relies on agrarian imagery recognizable to a contemporary audience, with the Vita making more recourse to the spiritual implications of such imagery. The plowman, a figure diminishing in importance in WL’s time, assumes several roles before the end when, shorn of all agrarian imagery, he remains a desirable ideal. The shepherd, historically becoming a more common and threatening reality, is embodied in Will who, until he sheds this imagery on Easter morning, represents the negative aspects of the Christian life. Piers, in Truth’s employ for forty years, had been hired before the post-plague legislation. The manorial society, by the time of PPl often working only when impelled by hunger, was ending; Piers’s leaving his plow for another occupation, suggested by Psalm 23 as the shepherd life, is significant.
Rev. John Michael Crafton, SAC 16 (1994): 207-10l Kathleen M. Hewett-Smith, Speculum 70 (1995): 389-90; Priscilla Martin, MLR 90 (1995): 731-32; A. V. C. Schmidt, MAE 64 (1995): 315-16.