Models of Winning in the B-text of Piers Plowman andWynnere and Wastoure
Roberts, Ruth R.
Marginalia, Vol. 4, (2005-2006) Cambridge Yearbook
In Passus III of Piers Plowman, Conscience proposes two separate categories of reward: God’s gift to men, and the corruptible transactions of the world. His division of ‘mede’ implies material gain is inherently incompatible with the divine economy. Both Langland and the poet of Wynnere and Wastoure, with their economic concerns, must negotiate this division. While Langland attempts to reconcile gain and expenditure with a path to salvation, the subject matter of Wynnere is dissociated from divine judgement. I propose that these texts are best understood in terms of two temporal models: continuum between the historic moment and eternity, and independence of the historic moment from divine consequence. I will demonstrate how the value-systems of payment and reward in Wynnere and the Visio in the B-text of Piers Plowman are dependent upon their relation to both contemporary events and redemptive history, and that transition between temporal models signals an impetus toward either economic or covenantal reform.