1. What do the editors state that is surprising about the use of Piers Plowman by the leaders of the Pleasants’ Revolt? What do they note about why it could be used?
2. Why is Piers Plowman so difficult to read even in modern English?
3. What theme unifies the poem? What question, addressed to Holy Church, does the theme strive to answer?
4. According to the introduction, although Langland satirizes and thus critiques the religious leaders of his time, he also critiques the commons. What is one strategy he uses in the poem to do this?
5. Some critics note that the narrator of Piers Plowman may experience tension in his own position in society. At the beginning of the poem, what is the narrator doing and how does this accord with his scathing condemnation of sloth in numerous places in the poem?
6. If the tower on the hill is a heavenly place in biblical symbolism, what might the deep dale with the dungeon be (note Pas1.59ff) and where would this place the “field of folk”? What is the significance of their placement?
7.. The footnote on Pas 1.12 gives the editors’ ideas on Langland’s use of the word “Truth.” How do the following support those uses: Pas 1 lines 85-90; 94-97; 102-104; 142-44?
8. The editors explain that the phrase “a god by the Gospel” is Langland’s and that he returns to it often. (line 90 n 9). According to his characterization of Lucifer in ll 113-119 what does he not mean by the words?
9. What is the “plant of peace” found in line152? Find evidence in the following lines.
Also, who is the speaker conversing with the dreamer in Passus 1?
10. How does Piers Plowman differ from the professional pilgrim whom we meet at the start of Passus 5?
11. Marxist criticism concerns itself with economical matters: means of production and relations between workers and employers. What about Passus 5 would lend itself to such an analysis?
12. What is the first step towards finding Truth that Piers gives in Passus 5 lines 563-54? What are the remaining steps?
13. How does Piers relate to beggars as he plows his half-acre?
14. How does the knight fail Piers and what is Piers response?
15. What lessons on eating does Hunger teach Piers?
16. How effective is Piers’ use of Hunger to get the folk to work?
17. How is Piers present in Passus 18?
18. How closely does the Passus recount the crucifixion?
19. The footnote for lines 92ff of Passus 18 says that Langland’s anti-semitism is typical medieval vitriol. How does Langland possibly qualify his condemnation of the Jews?
20. What religious themes that we’ve already encountered in our study of Anglo-Saxon and Medieval literature also appear in Piers Plowman?