Beyond the Garden: On the Erotic in the Vision of the Middle English Pearl

The Middle English Pearl is known for its mixture of genres, moods and various discourses. The textual journey the readers of the poem embark on is a long and demanding one, leading from elegiac lamentations and the erotic outbursts of courtly love to theological debates and apocalyptic visions. The heterogeneity of the poem has often prompted critics to overlook the continuity of the erotic mode in Pearl which emerges already in the poem’s first stanza. While it is true that throughout the dream vision the language of the text never eroticizes the relationship between the Dreamer and the Pearl Maiden to the extent that it does in the opening lines, the article argues that eroticism actually underlies the entire structure of the vision proper. Taking recourse to Roland Barthes’s distinction between the erotic and the sexual to explain the exact nature of the bond which connects the two characters, the argument posits eroticism as an expression of somatic longing; a careful analysis of Pearl through this prism provides a number of ironic insights into the mutual interactions between the Dreamer and the Maiden and highlights the poignancy of their inability to understand each other. Further conclusions are also drawn from comparing Pearl with a number of Chaucerian dream visions. Tracing the erotic in both its overt and covert forms and following its transformations in the course of the narrative, the article outlines the poet’s creative use of the mechanics of the dream vision, an increasingly popular genre in the period when the poem was written.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.2478/texmat-2013-0023
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 40,649
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Beauty and Lust.Alphonso Lingis - 1996 - Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 27 (2):174-192.
“I Cluppe and I Cusse as I Wood Wore”: Erotic Imagery in Middle English Mystical Writings.Władysław Witalisz - 2013 - Text Matters - a Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture 3 (3):58-70.
Argaitis.Pearl Pearl - 1943 - Classical World: A Quarterly Journal on Antiquity 37:165.
Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 2182.Pearl Pearl - 1943 - Classical World: A Quarterly Journal on Antiquity 37:9-10.
Eroticism in and of the City: The Question of Approach.Ewa Kębłowska-Ławniczak - 2013 - Text Matters - a Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture 3 (3):139-153.
"Ball", John: Egypt in the Classical Geographers. [REVIEW]Pearl Pearl - 1945 - Classical World: A Quarterly Journal on Antiquity 39:79-80.


Added to PP index

Total views
6 ( #914,351 of 2,242,384 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #321,184 of 2,242,384 )

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes

Sign in to use this feature