English Language and Literature ETDs

Publication Date



Although some of the problems that Piers the Plowman presents for the twentieth-century reader--authorship, thought, and theology--have been elucidated, the structure of William Langland's fourteenth-century poem still puzzles modern readers and critics. The continuing concern with the structure of Piers the Plowman is evidenced by the works of T. P. Dunning, D. W. Robertson and B. F. Huppe, and Mary Carruthers which have appeared over a period of about forty years. Each of these works is concerned with structure; each uses the works of Augustine as a theoretical basis, but none of the works treats structure as separate from thought. Augustine's works have also provided theory for the study and appreciation of Gothic cathedrals. Erwin Panofsky and Robert Jordan have used architectural models for studying literature, both the religious Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas and the secular works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Here, parallels between the structure of the Vita de Dowel, Dobet, et Dobest of Piers the Plowman and the more nearly contemporary English adaptation of the Gothic design, the Perpendicular, are explored. Both structures are shaped to the end of Truth, of pointing the mind of man to the contemplation of God and interesting structural parallels do exist.

First Committee Member (Chair)

Ellen Spolsky

Second Committee Member


Third Committee Member


Document Type