Why calle ye hym crist, sien Iewes called hym Iesus?’ : The Disavowal of Jewish Identification in Piers Plowman B Text.
Using classical Freudian psychoanalysis, the essay argues that the L unconsciously identifies with Jewish models of desire for the Law, but that this unacceptable identification is disavowed and remains barred from consciousness. L’s denial of this identification is signaled by the hostile projection of guilt onto the Jews, which borrows material from medieval anti-semitism. The unconscious guilt arising from the wish that the impossible demands of the law might disappear is accompanied by a counterwish for the target of hostility to cease being Jews. The allusions to the traditional apocalyptic fantasy of the eschatological conversion of the Jews helps keep the guilty wish (and the Jewish identification on which it is based) unconscious. The blindness of the Jews is endlessly repeated in the figure of Will’s stubborn resistance to grace. [RJG]