Drawing a Perfect Circle in Medieval Dream Poem Pearl

Aktarer S.

9th International NALANS Conference, Trabzon, Turkey, 3 - 05 October 2023

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Unpublished
  • City: Trabzon
  • Country: Turkey
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes


This study intends to examine the medieval dream poem Pearl in regard to the Gawain-poet’s sheer perfection in form and theme. Pearl is an overtly religious poem in which a bereaved Dreamer mourns for his lost pearl. He cannot comfort himself by any means and rebels to the doctrines of reason and Christianity. Consistent with the features of a dream poem, he falls asleep preoccupied with this internal conflict. In his vision, he meets the Pearl Maiden who somehow looks like a transformed figure of his lost pearl. She marks that she is not indeed entirely lost and endeavors to teach heavenly values to him. The Dreamer, nevertheless, is headstrong and slow to learn. As a result, a theological debate takes place between them in which the Dreamer is gradually taught about the way Christian doctrines work. In the end, the Dreamer wakes up with an enlightened mind and is transformed into a new person who can now be reconciled by submitting himself to heavenly values. Furthermore, the poem possesses an ornate form and style in which everything is premeditated to fit the transformation process in the poem. Thus, the form of the poem is directly related to its subject matter. In this light, the aim of this paper is to examine the way the Gawain- poet attains perfection in his holistic employment of form and subject matter in medieval dream poem Pearl.