Truthe is therinne: The Spaces of Truth and Community in Piers Plowman B
The poem’s position on private rooms is unusually unambiguous for PPl: they allow too easily for sin and deception. The minimal discussion of buildings, the absence of security in any inside space, and the greater importance of community rituals rather than communal spaces suggest a remarkably consistent analysis of the limitations and dangers to private space and to the figurative consequences of being ‘inside’. In the course of rejecting private space and the status of insiders, PPl may seem to argue for the equal participation of any person in shaping political policy or theological beliefs. Yet for L, political and religious institutions should shape that participation. Instead of outside space as the key opposition to inside, L opposes communal space to inside space. The poem’s failure to describe any beneficial crossing from outside to inside indicates how much L’s imagination was fixed in open, public spaces and suggests the futility of retreating to an interior space for spiritual succor. Major passages discussed include the depiction of the Prologue’s field of folk, the episodes of Meed and Study, Glutton’s tavern, the Barn of Unity, Conscience’s dinner party, and the depiction of body-as-castle (B.9).
Place, Space, and Landscape in Medieval Narrative, ed. by Laura L. Howes (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2007), pp. 141–54.