Piers Plowman

by

William Langland

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Christ / Jesus Character Analysis

Christ is the Son of God, and one part of the Trinity (alongside God the Father and Holy Ghost). Christ is the subject, directly or indirectly, of all of Will’s dreams, as well as all of his teachers’ lessons. Ultimately, Christ saves mankind by becoming human and dying on the cross. Doing so allows him to descend to Hell and rescue all of the worthy souls, as well as grant salvation to those who have faith in him. Throughout the poem, Christ is loosely represented by the Samaritan, and strongly represented by Piers Plowman.

Christ / Jesus Quotes in Piers Plowman

The Piers Plowman quotes below are all either spoken by Christ / Jesus or refer to Christ / Jesus. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W. W. Nortona & Company edition of Piers Plowman published in 2006.
Passus XVI Quotes

…Piers’s fruit flowered and befell to be ripe.
And then Jesus should joust for it by judgment of arms
Which one should fetch the fruit, the Fiend or himself.

Related Characters: Mary (speaker), Will, Piers Plowman, Christ / Jesus, Fiend
Related Symbols: Tree
Page Number: 277
Explanation and Analysis:
Passus XVIII Quotes

The bitterness that you have brewed, imbibe it yourself
Who are doctor of death, the drink you made.
For I who am Lord of Life, love is my drink
And for that drink today I died upon earth,
I struggled so I’m thirsty still for man’s soul’s sake.

Related Characters: Christ / Jesus (speaker), Lucifer, Satan
Page Number: 319
Explanation and Analysis:
Passus XIX Quotes

Surely you know…
That knight, king, conqueror can be one person.
To be named a knight is fair, for men shall kneel to him.
To be called a king is fairer, for he can make knights;
But to be called a conqueror, that comes by special grace,
…To make lads lords of the lands he wins
And foul slaves of free men who will not follow his laws.

Related Characters: Conscience (speaker), Will, Christ / Jesus
Page Number: 325
Explanation and Analysis:

This Jesus…when he was just a boy,
Turned water into wine, as holy words relate.
And there God of his grace began to Do-Well.
…And when he’d grown more mature…
…fed with two fishes and with five loaves
Near-famished folk, more than five thousand.
Then he comforted those full of care and acquired a greater name
Which was Do-Better...

Related Characters: Conscience (speaker), Will, Christ / Jesus, Do-Well, Do-Best, Do-Better
Page Number: 329
Explanation and Analysis:
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Christ / Jesus Character Timeline in Piers Plowman

The timeline below shows where the character Christ / Jesus appears in Piers Plowman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Passus I
Corruption Theme Icon
Good Works and Salvation Theme Icon
Social Hierarchy, Community, and Selfishness Theme Icon
Holy Church briefly teaches Will about the beginnings of Heaven and Hell. She explains that Christ created ten orders of heavenly beings, gave them power, and taught them to obey Truth.... (full context)
Passus X
Social Hierarchy, Community, and Selfishness Theme Icon
...into his explanation of Do-Well, Do-Better, and Do-Best. He defines Do-Well as having faith in Jesus, Do-Better as “suffer[ing] for your soul’s health,” and Do-Best as being “bold in blaming the... (full context)
Passus XI
Love Theme Icon
Good Works and Salvation Theme Icon
...conversation to talk about faith. Scripture claims that people are only saved by faith in Jesus, but Roman Emperor Trajan appears and objects to Scripture’s conception of salvation. Trajan explains that... (full context)
Passus XV
Corruption Theme Icon
Social Hierarchy, Community, and Selfishness Theme Icon
Labor vs. Idleness Theme Icon
...holy saints lived lives of suffering, marked by penance and poverty. Anima explains that even Jesus’ early followers lived humble lives, as “…Paul practiced basket-making, / And earned with his hands... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Social Hierarchy, Community, and Selfishness Theme Icon
Anima says that even though “…Christ’s Cross that overcame death and deadly sin” should be revered, “Both rich and religious” people... (full context)
Passus XVI
Corruption Theme Icon
A woman named Mary appears and explains that “Jesus should joust for it [the fallen fruit] by judgement of arms / Which one should... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Sitting at dinner on a Thursday evening, Jesus tells his followers that one of them will betray him for money. Although Judas objects... (full context)
Good Works and Salvation Theme Icon
...multitude of souls under his coat. As Faith talks about how he is now seeking Jesus, Will sees another man running down the road. Will asks the man who he is,... (full context)
Passus XVII
Love Theme Icon
...commandment, which is in the form of letters, isn’t sealed. He asserts that “…Cross and Christendom, and Christ” will seal the commandment, and then the Devil will be defeated. When Will... (full context)
Passus XVIII
Love Theme Icon
Good Works and Salvation Theme Icon
...Will lies down to rest and sleeps until Palm Sunday. In his dream, he sees Jesus, who looks like both the Samaritan and Piers Plowman, riding barefoot on a mule’s back... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
...at court, where everyone is crying “Crucifige!” The people place a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head and shoot him with small arrows. After nailing him to a Cross with three... (full context)
Penance and Repentance Theme Icon
A blind knight named Longeus is sent to spear to Jesus, since no one else is willing to touch Jesus’ dead body on the Cross. Blind... (full context)
Good Works and Salvation Theme Icon
Will descends with Christ to Hell, where he sees several women approaching. The first is a young woman named... (full context)
Good Works and Salvation Theme Icon
Social Hierarchy, Community, and Selfishness Theme Icon
...in clothes of patience, is joyful, as she has just received word from Love that Christ has won the joust and that Peace and Mercy are going to save humankind. Righteousness... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
A person named Book appears with “two broad eyes.” He affirms that Jesus was born in Bethlehem to eventually “…save man’s soul and destroy sin.” He explains that... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Several devils, including Satan and Lucifer, bicker about if Christ can actually steal their prey from them. Satan knows that if Christ is allowed to... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
...fourth devil, the Fiend, says that for the past thirty years, he’s tried to tempt Jesus into sin. He admits that when he realized Jesus would not give in, he went... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
...answers, “The King of Glory,” and commands the devils to unlock the gates so that Christ can enter. To the devils’ horror, the gates break open, “And those that our Lord... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Christ tells Satan, “…here’s my soul in payment / For all sinful souls, to save those... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
As Christ leads the worthy souls out of Hell, hundreds of angels sing, and Peace declares that... (full context)
Passus XIX
Love Theme Icon
...a cross. Will calls out to Conscience to ask if the man before him is Jesus or Piers Plowman. Conscience appears and responds that the man is Christ, but he is... (full context)
Social Hierarchy, Community, and Selfishness Theme Icon
Will asks why Conscience refers to him as Christ, not Jesus. Conscience says that Will should already know “That knight, king, conqueror can be... (full context)
Good Works and Salvation Theme Icon
Social Hierarchy, Community, and Selfishness Theme Icon
Conscience explains that when Jesus turned water into wine, he began to Do-Well. When he fed more than five thousand... (full context)
Social Hierarchy, Community, and Selfishness Theme Icon
...the bright light, but Conscience explains that what he is witnessing is a messenger of Christ, named Grace. (full context)