Starting a new Passus, The Dreamer thanks his latest instructor for his 'fair teaching' So, despite the 'Langlandese' words, the speaker was officially Anima. Langland does not always have a separate style for  allegorical characters, perhaps because they are essentially his own Thought, Wit,  Study, Soul, etc, If a reader wonders who is speaking, well, Langland is.

The Dreamer now tells Amina very politely, that all this valuable teaching has not answered his question.

"And yet I wonder still what is the meaning of Charity."

The answer describes Charity as a tree.

"Mercy is the main root of it and the mid-stock is pity,     The leaves are loyal words and the law of Holy Church,   The blossoms are obedient speech and benign bearing, The tree is plainly called patience and simplicity of life;   So through God and good men grows the fruit, Charity."

The tree is supported by three props, which are linked by a later passage to the three persons of the Trinity. Langland then develops a long, complicated, diverse and confusing allegory. Such poetic gems as it contains are drowned, for the lay reader, by inability to access the meaning. But the general theme is set early on by saying that Charity begins in the heart of man.

"'It grows,' said he, 'in a garden of God's making;           The shoot is from the stock and shelters in the body,     And the heart is the home wherein it rises.'"   

The confusion is made worse by The Dreamer falling into a deeper dream and meeting Piers the Plowman, the keeper of the tree. The Dreamer gets a long instruction mixing horticulture, theology, and the life of Jesus Christ. Then Piers vanishes and leaves him alone.

"With that I awoke and wiped my eyelids                         And pried where Piers the Plowman had vanished.             I wandered into the east and into the west country,
And hurried forth as an idiot in hope of finding
Piers the Plowman in the places that I visited."    

He does not find Piers, but he does find Abraham, a new character in the poem. Different themes dominate VPP at different stages. The change is gradual, some ideas becoming more prominent and some less. First it was religious practices, then it was Do-Well, then charity came to the fore, and in the later speech from Anima, the life of Christ got attention. The encounter with Abraham is one point where the change is noticeable, for what follows is a review of Christian doctrine.The Dreamer also meets Faith, who speaks first about the Trinity and then about a future deliverance from hell.

"No fund may fetch us from the fiend's penfold               Tlll he come of whom I spoke, and Christ is his name.     He will some day deliver us from the devil's clutches"

The next Passus tells of The Dreamer meeting Hope and follows the redemption story.




                             THE DEVIL'S PENFOLD

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