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“Like a Duck from a Falcon”

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Chapter Summary

This chapter gives a sense of what an audience during the Middle English period, roughly from 1250 to 1500, is likely to have known about Moses in general. It then examines the more complex and conflicted understanding of Moses that arises within the mystery play cycles (York, Towneley, Chester, and N-town) and in Piers Plowman. Passus V to VII of the Visio (Vision), the first section of Piers Plowman, deals with the question of salvation in terms of traditional schematic guides and is, in fact, organized very much as is the western wall of Trotton Church, read from left to right (Seven Deadly Sins, Ten Commandments, Seven Works of Corporal Mercy) and bottom to top (Ten Commandments and Doomsday). Moses is viewed differently before and after Christ's advent, whether in the didactic literature, the plays, or Piers Plowman.

Keywords: Middle English period; Moses; Piers Plowman; Seven Deadly Sins; Ten Commandments



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