Scene 9 (of 12) : Parliament Questions the Clergy

lines 3334-3822

Diligence returns with the educated, pious priests that he has found on his travels, the Doctor (of Theology) and the Licent (scholar). They join the Parliament. Correction and Good Counsel tell Rex to question all the clergy and expel from office anyone who has misused his or her position. Under questioning, Spirituality and his fellows reveal that they have used their jobs only to live well and make money.

The Doctor delivers a sermon, talking about the two metaphorical steps on the ladder to heaven (‘Love God and love thy neighbour’) but the clergy do not understand it, taking his reference to a ladder literally, and mocking him. Concluding that the clergy will never reform while they have wealth and possessions, Correction orders them to be stripped of their robes. The Prioress reveals a scarlet gown underneath her habit, and confesses that she only became a nun because her friends persuaded her to. She leaves to brew ale and look for a good man to marry. The Friar is exposed as Flattery in disguise, but he escapes punishment by offering to act as hangman to his fellow vices, Falset and Deceit. Spirituality, the Abbott, and the Vicar, once stripped, are revealed as fools, and flee to seek shelter with Sensuality and Covetice, but, since they now have no money, the vices reject them. They run off to try to find lodgings elsewhere.

With the church purged of corruption, the Doctor and Licent take the places of the fallen bishop, and John is invited to join the Parliament and given a new gown as a symbol of his restoration to prosperity.

no comments

Comments are closed.