Michael Foster. Textual Voices - Self-Representation and Religious Instruction in the Works of the Pearl-Poet pp. 187~214 ( 28 pages)


This paper explores the presence of a narrative voice in the poems preserved in Cotton Nero A.x commonly ascribed to the Pearl-poet. It argues that the poet constructs a series of cohesive themes in the four poems which all inform one another, and that the poet"s authority is both implied and asserted by the author"s manipulation of narrator personae and use of an absent or silent narrator in Cleanness and Patience. Meanwhile, the intimate narrative voice of Pearl functions to create a sense of shared theological and ideological positionality between audience and narrator, which this paper suggests is a rhetorical move to gain the trust and benevolence of an audience that may be otherwise hostile. Having captured the attention of the audience and made the theological arguments of Cleanness and Patience, the final poem invites the audience to trust in the Pearl-poet by differentiating the authority of texts versus rumors. 
Key words
 Pearl, Patience, Cleanness, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl-poet, Gawain-poet, self-deprecation, narrative voice, authority, medievaltheology, didactic poetry, religious poetry