The New Lives of Piers Plowman
Analyses the peculiar development of Piers from the A to the B to the C text. There are passages in the A text that, while not mentioning Piers, offer clues to L’s future alteration of him (passus 9-12). The relation of Piers to Dowel, Dobet and Dobest is especially significant. Piers comes to embody charity via his association with Christ the redeemer in B.13 and C.15 and with Dobest in B.19/C.21. In the C version, Piers’s abilities are more modest and orthodox than in B, and he ‘does not have x-ray eyes’ (p. 48). We can make sense of Piers, despite the radical changes to him, by seeing him ‘as exemplifying in succession the lives of Dowel, Dobet and Dobest’ (p. 52).
in Burrow and Duggan, Medieval Alliterative Poetry, pp. 41-52.
Burrow, J. A.