Yoon Minwoo, "Figural Allusions to Piers in Pier Plowman, Passus 13-16"
In the course of wanderings in search of Dowel (Passus 8-12), the
Dreamer encounters the personified allegories which denote rational
faculties of human soul and the means of knowledge. The debates between
them on Dowel's whereabouts are, in figural terms, compared to the
"wilderness talk" of the Israelite history in the Old Testament.
Meanwhile, since his tearing of the Pardon (Passus 7), Piers has been
off the stage of Piers until Anima mentions his name in Passus 16. His
presence, however, constantly felt even in these Passus 13-16. Owing to
the allusions to him, Piers is figured forth as the depository of
Christian wisdom ("word"); he is said to come to prove the wisdom in
"dede" ("work"). Finally, Piers is noted as a human being who perceives
human will ("will"); and, since this ability pertains to Christian
deity, Anima comes to state that "Petrus id est christus" in Passus 15.
The allusions, which anticipate Piers's coming, nullifies the
pseudo-logical reasoning, and gradually replaces the "wilderness"
words. These allusions to Piers are compared to the Biblical prophecy
of Christ's coming. The images and roles of Piers, however enigmatic,
are to be viewed in figural perspective. Each moment of Piers's
transformation, here seen through the allusions, unmistakably
prefigures Piers as the humana natura of Christ in Passus 18.
In accordance with this development of Piers's image, the Dreamer comes
to pursue Charity as the way to salvation who is ultimately Christ but
provisionally Piers. He realizes that Dowel does not exist outside his
heart and it must be found and grown in him, although at present
obscure as "in a mirror." The divine image "on the mirror"－enigmatic
and imperfect, as well－is no other than the vestige of God in the
created being. The obscure and imperfect image of charity in man is an
"infinite" picture in pursuit of the "finite," "face-to-face" vision of
God. Also, the prophetic and poetic styles, employed respectively in
describing Piers's coming and the image of charity in human heart, are
of a quality that appeals to the affective side of human will, in
antithesis to the sterile intellectual "wilderness talk."
typology (figura), human will (voluntas), intellectus, affectus,
wilderness-talk, prophecy, enigma, face to face (facie ad faciem)