four allegories

{ You May Have Already Known that I Study Medieval Literature and that I Have Ties to Inception Fandom but You Still Probably Didn’t Expect This Post, and Honestly Neither Did I, Because Believe You Me, This Entry Is as Strange to Me as It Is to You }


Have you ever read Piers Plowman? If you haven’t, don’t. If you have, I’m very sorry for your loss. I’m kidding; it’s amazing. It will also probably make you want to bash your head against the wall until the blood streaming down your face gives you a convenient excuse for being unable to continue reading. It’s a dream-vision poem about justice, mercy, and leading a good Christian life, which is kind of like saying that The Lion King is about lions.


Lord Byron: “Chaucer, notwithstanding the praises bestowed on him, I think obscene and contemptible: –he owes his celebrity merely to his antiquity, which he does not deserve so well as Piers Plowman, or Thomas of Ercildoune”. Maybe Byron’s fondness for poetic form and allegory explains his high opinion of PP, but I wouldn’t discount the possibility that he was just being an outrageous contrarian, as stipulated by the contract he signed when he decided to become Byron.


There are two places in PP where Will, the poet-dreamer, enters a dream-within-a-dream. In both of those sections, the dream-within-a-dream functions as a way to delve into a more personal, poignant, and emotionally significant version of what’s happening one level up. In both of those sections, it requires a dream-within-a-dream to let the dream outside move from operating under the auspices of the Old Testament to the New Testament; it’s too important a shift to happen within the confines of a single-layer dream. You have to go deeper for changes like this to take.


In the Middle Ages, texts from different cultural milieus were subsumed into a single interpretive framework by being understood through a form of allegory with four levels. I mention this because sometimes I imagine medieval clerks panicking and yelling at each other about Scriptural exegesis. “He’s already on the anagogical level, he’s too far down! We’d have to kick him up two whole layers just to get him to typology, and he’d still be in figurative space!” Clearly this would never happen because clerks loved being on the anagogical level and would do anything to just stay there all the time. Limbo is a hell of a drug.


I’m going to be deathly serious here for a second and make the claim that Arthur is absolutely the PP to Eames’s Canterbury Tales. Here is a short list of respective attributes for your consideration.

PP: exacting, demanding, paradoxical, frustrating, unapproachable, a master of self-sabotage, recursive, pondering, frequently accused of being tedious

CT: slippery, expansive, begins in a tavern, meandering, mercurial, total pro at convincing people not to take it seriously, penetrating, frequently accused of being silly

ISN’T THIS GREAT?? WHAT THE HELL IS THIS POST??? Many people wonder what one does with an English degree, and this is the answer to that question. You do this shit! You do this fucking shit alllll dayyyyy longggggg