Characteristics of Do-Well in William Langland’s" Piers the Plowman": Stands for Certain Virtues and Positive Values

The second part of William Langland’s Piers the Plowman or Visio Willelmi de Piers depicts the life of Do-Well. Do-Well (Dowel) manifests itself in the form of Do-Well, Do-Better and Do-Best. The life of Do-Well is seen from Passus VIII to Passus XIV. The poet is in quest of Do-Well. He meets various abstract qualities, such as Thought, Wit, Clergy, Scripture, Imagination, etc. He enquires of them about Do-Well. Each replies in its own way, but the Dreamer is not satisfied with any reply. Read More Middle English As Wikipedia says, “Piers the Plowman —part theological allegory, part social satire—concerns the narrator's intense quest for the true Christian life, from the perspective of medieval Catholicism. This quest entails a series of dream-visions and an examination into the lives of three allegorical characters, Dowel ("Do-Well"), Dobet ("Do-Better"), and Dobest ("Do-Best").”

Do-Well stands for certain virtues and positive values. Do-Well suggests — be honest, be friendly and neighbourly, be hard-working and painstaking and be loyal and devoted to the Church. As Thought replies, Do-Well, Do-Better and Do-Best are three noble values. Any man who is truthful in word and deed and earns his living by his own hand or labour, who is honest in keeping accounts and takes no more than his due, and who is not scornful or given to, drunkenness, is familiar With Do-Well. Read More Middle English 

Do-Well cannot reconcile with Do-Evil, though they exist together. The Friars tell the Dreamer that both Do-Well and Do-evil have existed with man forever and will ever be with him till the end of this world. They are two opposing qualities yet they live together in peaceful co-existence. It is pointed out by one of the Friars that since man is not perfect, he cannot escape sins, altogether. The sins of frailty are to be distinguished from the conscious sins, and sins are ills that flesh is heir to. Read More Middle English The Dreamer is in search of the perfect man, hence the answer of the Friars does not satisfy him. The Dreamer cannot believe that Do-Well can live with the Friars because the life of the Friars is not free from sins.

What Dowel, Dobet, and Dobest represent is another point of contention. There have been many attempts to equate them with the triad of the Active, Contemplative, and Mixed Lives or with the triad of the Illuminative, Purgative, and Unitive stages of mysticism. However, A distinction is made among the activities of Do-Well, Do-Better ( Dobet) and Do-Best(Dobest).

1. Do-Well: Do-Well stands for active life. Read More Middle English

2. Do-Better: In the opinion of Thought Do-Better has all the fair virtues of Do-Well. He is as meek as a lamb in speech. He is always willing to help those in dire need.

3 Do-Best: Do-Best is better than either Do-Well or Do-Better. He has the cozier of a Bishop and drags man out of hell.

All these three have sought to crown the King Who will cast Do-Well and Do- Better in fetters if they try to wrong Do-Best. The Dreamer asks how Do-Well, Do- Better and Do-Best work among the people. Wit or Intelligence explains that the man who fears God, Do-Well; the man who fears God out of love and not in dread of punishment Does Better; but to Do-Best is to abstain, by day and night, from wasting any word or time. Intelligence tells that to live in true marriage is Do-Well. For the married man must work and earn a living and keep the world going. Read More Middle English 

Do-Well is a life among lay people of believing in Holy Church and all the articles of Faith that she enjoys upon us. The learned and ignorant alike must believe steadfastly in the great God, who has no beginning. His true Son has saved mankind from the power of the Devil with the help of the Holy Ghost. Do-Better suffers from man’s soul’s health. Man has to practice what he professes. Study is concerned with facts. Practice, however, is the only way out. Knowledge and practice may also fall short. What is inculcated is simple faith.