Pearl is a medieval poem that originated in the fourteenth century. The poem was written by a devoted Christian author and explores a variety of different themes via an interaction of the narrator (the dreamer), and the person he encounters in his vision—the Pearl maiden. This paper argues that the views of the dreamer and the maiden differ, due to the dissimilar nature of his materialistic perspective and her immaterial life.
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In the initial part of the poem, the narrator finds himself in a beautiful garden. He sees a pool; everything he observes, he perceives as marvelously amazing and describes the beauty of his surroundings using wording that can be mainly associated with material wealth and riches. For example, the following quote is his description of the pool: “Each pebble set there in that pool / was an emerald, sapphire, or goodly gem, / that all the water with light did gleam,— / the glamour was so wondrous rare” (x).
The poet’s idea of the marvelously beautiful place is associated with gemstones. When it comes to the description of the maiden, the narrator states that “glistening white was her rich robe” (xiv), again emphasizing the material value. Further, the robe is described in detail as particularly unique and wonderful due to being covered in pearls, and the maiden herself is recognized by the narrator as his daughter who died as a child.
The maiden is described as an adult woman, who turns out to be married to the Lord of Heaven and wears a crown of margarites; she is constantly associated with pearls; in that way, it is possible to theorize that the poet uses pearls as a symbol of holiness, uniqueness, and Heaven. The other items of wealth, such as gems and gold, may symbolize joy. It is possible to state that the dreamer sees the world’s value as that of things one can or cannot have.
However, his first interaction with the Pearl maiden reveals that her vision of valuables is very different. She scolds him for mourning his loss for too long, and says that blaming his faith for taking away his daughter was unwise, and instead of her casket, he should have cherished the memories of her and the life he still had to live. Besides, she explains that she is not a unique pearl in Heaven, and everyone who gets there becomes royal, just like herself. The dreamer is baffled by this fact, and finds it difficult to understand because, in his world, a king or a queen is, literally, one in a million.
Moreover, the maiden explains that the fact the dreamer can see her does not mean that he belongs to her world: “through dreary death each man must pass, / ere God deem right he cross this flood” (xvii). When the speaker continues to think his faith is unfair, she explains the following: “Through din of dole for losses small / many a man oft loseth more” (xxix). The maiden demonstrates a more objective view of things and people that seems to come from her heavenly position and allows her to have a broader vision of the world.
In conclusion, the narrator speaks from the individual point of view of a person who has been grieving for many years, while the maiden expresses a philosophical approach and helps her father to see a bigger picture and thus let go of his sorrow.
Pearl. n. d. Web.