'Pearl': Understanding God and Suffering

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'Pearl': Understanding God and Suffering

Post by Thomas Hopkins on Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:13 pm

'Pearl' is, in part, a poignant, touching account of a father's grief in the wake of his daughter's death. Early in the poem, he cries 'My wreched wille in wo aye wraghte. / I fel upon that floury flaght, / Such odour to my hernes schot; / I slode upon a slepyng slaght' (56-59). Despite consoling himself with the thought 'That spot of spyces mot nedes sprede / There such rychness to rot is runne. / Blomes blayke and blue and rede' (25-27), he passes out while in indescribable pain. He then has a dream or vision, in which his 'gost is gon in Godes grace / In aventure there mervayles meven' (63-64). God essentially demonstrates to him the wonder of the world, presumably Heaven, that lies beyond his own. The man has likened his daughter to a beautiful pearl, and is then shown a world in which 'The gravayl that on grounde con grynde / Were precious perles of orient' (81-82). She lives on in a world that is more than fit for the infinite beauty and grace her father saw in her on Earth. He is able to see and even converse with his 'faunt' (161), who 'Rises up in her aray ryalle, / A precious pece in perles pyght' (191-192). It is through this interaction that the man is able to understand God in relation to suffering. He sees that his daughter has been delivered to a place that is beyond pain. It is, to use his word, Paradise. Our Earthly torment can be justified if we have knowledge of the infinite pleasure and joy of the after-life. In his own experience, this world 'Bylde in me blisse, abated my bales, / Forbidden my stresse, disstryed my pains' (123-124). His wonderful vision is, of course, shattered when he defies God and attempts to cross the river that separates him from the after-life, but this, as AD Putter and Myra Stokes note, leads to him 'regretting his disobedience and resigning himself to the will of God' (5). His faith in God is confirmed by his experience of Heaven's splendour. The existence of pain is thus no longer wholly incongruous with the existence of an omni-benevolent God. The poem works to allow the man and, in turn, the reader to understand a just God in relation to the presence of unbearable suffering in a world created by God.     

Thomas Hopkins

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Join date : 2017-08-03

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