Analysis Of ' Grendel ' By John Gardner

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As humans, do we consciously form our own identities? After all, one is rarely who they aspire to be. Take, for example, John Gardner’s character Grendel. Although Grendel seems to intentionally perpetuate his wretched state of being, it is also clear that this process creates, or is the product of some sort of internal struggle between what he considers to be the “two dark realities, the self and the world” (Gardner 47). For many individuals, including Grendel, existence appears to be nothing more than a never-ending series of conflicts, mostly between the actual state of things and our idealistic perception of what they should be. These conflicts, whether realized or not, generate a great deal of emotional and psychological turmoil. This idea is present in nearly every religion and school of philosophy and has been given many names throughout history, but the more recent technical term for this flaw in human thought is “cognitive dissonance”. The term “cognitive dissonance” describes the emotional negativity that results from an inconsistency of thought; when two things that should add up just don’t. It is by this perpetual struggle that man defines himself. Cognitive dissonance shapes the way we think and often manifests itself as the type of behavior that creates even more confusion. Grendel’s character is a somewhat extreme representation of this process. He often acts in a way that is incongruent with his emotions, and despite having realized the absurd nature of his

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