Bot Wothes Mo Iwysse Ther Ware: On the Nightmarish Bliss of the Pearl Vision
This paper investigates the structure of the Pearl to shed new light on the poem’s patterning and its relation to what is acknowledged to be the work’s main concern — the irreconcilable gulf between earthly-minded thought and the divine wisdom of the enlightened. It offers a psychological reading that sees the peculiar kind of dream vision the poem is based on as a critical constituent feature of its didacticism. My aim is to investigate the emotional states of the poem’s narrator and to trace the aesthetics of nightmare in his otherwise blissful state of mind. With close attention to the drives and impulses that motivate the Dreamer prior to his debate with the Pearl Maiden and during the vision of the New Jerusalem which she secures for him, the paper attempts to foreground an apparent contradiction between bliss and nightmare and relate it to other contradictions which permeate the text.