The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Olmert, Michael. "Game-Playing, Moral Purpose, and the Structure of Pearl." 21 (1987): 383-403.
In order to demonstrate that humans always seek happiness but never fully attain it, the Pearl-Poet shapes Pearl as a race-game, a type of board game. (Medieval board games often had underlying scriptural messages.) The 101 stanzas are divided into two groups of 50 mirroring each other; stanza 51 connects the two halves. Within each half, there are ten sub-groups connected by word repetition. The poet sets up a pearl, God's grace, as the stake of the game. The Pearl-maiden teaches childlike innocence to each reader/ player.