Piers Plowman


William Langland

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Castle on the Hill Symbol Analysis

Castle on the Hill Symbol Icon

The castle on the hill, which lies on one side of the “field full of folk,” and opposite of the dungeon in the valley, symbolizes Heaven. Truth, one of the representations of God in the poem, resides in the castle, enhancing the connection between God’s heavenly kingdom and Truth’s castle perched on a hill. The word “truth” has several meanings in the poem, which affect and broaden the interpretation of the castle. First, the castle can be inferred to be home to truth in the form of “integrity,” which points to Heaven because of its associations with moral perfection and goodness. Likewise, the castle is also where one can find truth in the sense of the reality of things, which points to the Christian understanding of God and Heaven. Since the humans in the “field full of folk” exist in between the castle and the dungeon, they have the ability to either earn Heaven or be damned in Hell.

Castle on the Hill Quotes in Piers Plowman

The Piers Plowman quotes below all refer to the symbol of Castle on the Hill. 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.
Prologue Quotes

I saw a tower on a hill-top, trimly built,
A deep dale beneath, a dungeon tower in it,
With ditches deep and dark and dreadful to look at.
A fair field full of folk I found between them,
Of human being of all sorts, the high and the low…

Related Characters: Will (speaker), Truth, Holy Church, Wrong
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
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Castle on the Hill Symbol Timeline in Piers Plowman

The timeline below shows where the symbol Castle on the Hill appears in Piers Plowman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Passus I
Love Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
...woman (who later introduces herself as Holy Church) dressed in linen and departing from the castle on the hill . Holy Church approaches Will and speaks to him gently, explaining to him that the... (full context)