Humor through Glutton

Piers Plowman from Passus 5, The Confession of the Sins reminded me a lot of Everyman, both in form and message. In Passus 5, the narrator introduces multiple characters that represent the seven deadly sins, such as Glutton and Wrath. Similarly, the morality play Everyman, written about 200 years after Piers Plowman, introduces characters such as Good Deeds and Fellowship that represent themes/ideas in order to get across a message. Everyman seems to be heavily influenced by Piers Plowman, Passus 5, and both tales aim to enforce Christian values in their readers.

I really enjoyed the description of Glutton in Passus 5 because its rare to read something comical in a text as old as this one. Additionally, his description gets pretty crude and would fall into today’s category of crude humor. For example, Langland wrote, “He pissed a half-gallon in the time it takes to say “Our Father,” And blew his round trumpet at his backbone’s end, And all who heard that horn held their nose afterwards.” I understand this description was meant to show how belligerent Glutton got and the negative side effects of drinking too much, but I found this hysterical. You don’t really associate humor with medieval manuscripts, so this was a nice surprise. I also thought it was interesting that Glutton was the only deadly sin to cry while confessing/repenting, showing that under his gluttonous behavior he really was a person who was ashamed of his actions. Then Langland wrote, “And [Glutton] vowed firmly, “Neither for hunger nor for thirst Will ever fish on Friday dissolve in my stomach.” Personally, I thought Glutton’s confession was the most sincere. The contrast that the author provides between Glutton’s drunk actions and his sorrowful remorse remind me of a quote that circulated the internet after Robin William’s death:  “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.” Glutton was surrounded by many people who are described as laughing and having a good time with him, but in the end he is regretful of his actions and how he is living his life. The author probably wasn’t trying to create this contrast with Glutton, but it really struck me that he cried while confessing, and I couldn’t shake this idea that Glutton had some depth/ inner turmoil to him — or maybe I was just trying to make the story more dramatic/entertaining in my own head.


One thought on “Humor through Glutton

  1. Kat, I agree with what you have to say about Piers Plowman Passus 5 reminding you of Everyman, I found that it is very similar to the later morality play. I also really enjoyed the description of Glutton, and I like what you have to say about it as well. Glutton gets distracted by spices and good gifts while on his way to confession, and it seems as though he is the most innocent of all the sins. He is not filled with hate like Envy and is not devious like Wrath. The section on Glutton is also pretty funny. Certain moments that Kat pointed to are crude, humorous and entertaining (Kat if you liked that aspect of Piers Plowman you should read Chaucer’s The Miller’s Prologue and Tale if you haven’t already. The crude humor in Piers Plowman reminded me a lot of Chaucer). Although gluttony is a sin, it seems that Glutton just has a series of bad habits instead of a bad heart or temper like the other sins. Perhaps this difference, which separates Glutton from Envy and Wrath, is what makes him the most relatable of the sins. The more innocent nature of Glutton, as compared to Envy and Wrath, could also explain why he cries during confession.

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