Repetition in Pearl

Each stanza of Pearl begins and ends with a repeating word that changes in each section.  The word “right” or variations of that word is used in section 12.  Like the word pearl, which can mean both literally the jewel, the girl Pearl, or a metaphor for something that is clear, immaculate, clean, and pure, the word “right” also has different meanings.  Pearl (the girl) explains that innocent humans have the right (the noun meaning a moral entitlement) to enter heaven under God’s grace because they have been “righteous” or “right” (adjective meaning morally correct).  The word is played around without through out section 12 stating “innocence is safe by right” and “the righteous man…shall approach God’s domicile” (stanza 57 and 58).  Another interesting repeated word is “spot” (section 16).  This word is used to describe a place in Judah or a position (spot) or something that is flawless, without a spot (like a stain) or “spotless.”  The last repeated word is “please” as the speaker describes his desire to please God and what pleases God.  After waking up, the speaker has decided to “please” God, which he learned about through out the poem and even questioned but with Pearl’s lessons he is ready to follow God’s will. The various meanings of the words and the repetitive nature of the poem, make reading it fun and entertaining but also engrain the message into the reader, much like the message was engrained into the speaker who by the end of the poem wants to submit to God’s grace and be a better Christian.

4 thoughts on “Repetition in Pearl

  1. I also took note of these repetitive words and their various meanings. This repetition adds a sense of progression. However I struggled to read this second half of the poem much more than the first half, because it felt very stationary. The poem emphasizes the conversation between Pearl and her father, as she explains how she came to be in God’s grace. As Erin mentions the poem is didactic by nature, attempting to teach readers how to please God. In this manner it reads like a sermon. However it is only when the jeweler awakens that he fully embraces his calling to please God, that is only once he has been removed from heaven. I am not entirely sure how to interpret this.

    I also took note of the reoccurrence of the number twelve. The twelve jewels described, as well as the twelve months among others. Is this once again emphatic of the circular nature of life? Perhaps representative of the cycle of the year, does the use of the number twelve pertain to the pearl and it’s roundness?

  2. So far in Pear with the second 50 lines I have seen not just repetition of words but repetition of the way that the speaker is telling his story. The heavy description of where he is (in the wood) and what is going on around him is very repetitive. Some of the words within the line were repetitive too, such as alliteration.

    Examples of alliteration are found in every stanza that we read for today’s work, but one example is line 80 “wyth schymeryng schene ful schrylle thay schynde.” This popped out at me because the words were so different than modern english (which I spent much time glancing back and forth at).

  3. It may be because I was simply in a more awake and cheery mood than when I first read this, but I enjoyed the second half of this poem more than I enjoyed the first. It also probably had to do with the fact that I was awarded a conclusion with the second half. As I have mentioned before both on the blog and in class, I really liked the word play throughout this poem, especially the use of the world “pearl”. Erin mentions that this word has multiple uses, whether referring to an actual pearl or the daughter of the speaker. I liked that it brings about a continued feeling of innocence and purity, which we are supposed to feel in regards to Pearl.

    Something that Tamar said that I didn’t catch on to while reading is that the speaker does not decide to live a righteous life until he wakes from his dream state and is no longer in heaven. I would be interested in talking about other stories (maybe biblical?) in which people are visited by angels or supernatural beings in a dream and when and where their moment of clarity arrives.

  4. I agree with the aforementioned tediousness of the second half of the poem. It’s very didactic and the conversation between Pearl and her father does seem to drag on and on. It was difficult for me to follow at times. There were parts that I had to read and reread to figure out who the speaker was at that moment. I didn’t find the content of their conversation very riveting either. I do wonder if this technique was more effective during the time that this was written. Was a conversational approach to teaching frequently used and understood then?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *