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The Spherical Logic of “Pearl”


Pearl, the medieval poem from the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, presents to the reader a dichotomy. The poem claims that once God’s children enter heaven, the ladder of human status – king over knight, knight over peasant – becomes obsolete; replaced with eternal plenty. But the Pearl-maiden asks the Dreamer many times to submit, which is a hierarchical concept. She urges him to submit to her advice, submit to the cruelness of a fallen world, and submit to God. She insists that the Dreamer give up control to higher powers that he may enter the Kingdom of Heaven, all the while asserting that the very purpose of the destination is the experience of radical equity. In other words, the Dreamer – and by inference the reader – must pay a great price to escape subservience. The price? More subservience. Continue reading

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