Piers Plowman Questions and Answers
by William Langland

Start Your Free Trial

Comment on the line "do well, do better, do best" in Piers Plowman.

Expert Answers info

Sarah Goodale eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write638 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Piers Plowman is a Middle English poem written in the 14th century by one William Langland. Little is known about the author except that he might be from the area in the west of England.

The poem comprises a series of 8 visions and is divided into 20 sections called “passus” (Latin for “steps”). The characters are largely allegorical. They are personifications of things like Wit, Thought, Reason, and Mede. Piers the Plowman’s central protagonist, Will, decides that he will seek “Dowell” in the seventh “passus.” In the beginning of the eight “passus,” Will meets “Thought” in his dream, who tells him to seek “Do Well, Do Better, and Do Best.” Wit, whom Will meets next, intimates that “Do Well” is related to virtue.

Despite the fact that Wit states “Do Well is to dread God, Do Better is to suffer, and Do Best springs from both, to abash the arrogant,” much scholarly ink has been spilled over the true meaning of “Do Well, Do Better, and Do Best.” Some speculate that they are related to staged of mysticism, while some claim that they are related to obeying the teachings of the clergy, teaching, and practicing and teaching the same thing. Other scholars have more strictly identified the concepts specifically and individually as follows: “Do Well” is to learn, “Do Better” is to teach, and “Do Best” is to love.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial