Title Background

The Social Trinity of <i>Piers Plowman</i>.

The Social Trinity of Piers Plowman.

Idealized triune society could not possibly replicate itself in real social terms, given the complexity of fourteenth-century English society; and WL could not have sought simply to reinstate the social reality of the three estates, if such had ever in fact existed. His own estates theory, brought in confrontation with reality in the Pardon scene, nevertheless remains morally authoritative even as it passes into a “final unreachability.” WL must have felt that the estates theory demanded an act of faith; with the help of grace, the qualities of social duty and obedience (Dowel) were potentially achievable. PPl’s ending denies closure, in insisting on the necessity of a transcendence through faith. Christ — perfect knight, priest, and laborer — has passed into Heaven, taking the estates with him.