Out of Time: Time and Otherworldly Exchanges in Pearl and Sir Orfeo
In Middle English poems Pearl and Sir Orfeo, the heavenly and fairy otherworlds are a source of pain and privation for the Pearl-Narrator and Orfeo. Although both otherworlds share certain similarities, including a difference between earthly and otherworldly time, Pearl’s overt Christian themes underlie the relationship between transient earthly time and heavenly eschatological time. In contrast, the similarity of time in Sir Orfeo’s mortal world and fairy otherworld acknowledges the constant and inescapable presence of mystery in both of Orfeo’s worlds. Ultimately, the Narrator’s and Orfeo’s journeys through the otherworld reveal as much about the mortal world as they do about the heavenly or fairy kingdoms.