Comparing Innocence in Grendel, Neil Young and Portrait of a Lady
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Fall from Innocence in Grendel, Neil Young and Portrait of a Lady
According to the Bible, God created man pure and innocent, oblivious to good and evil. The serpent of evil lured them to the tree of knowledge, however, and its fruit proved too much of a temptation. With a bite, their "eyes... were opened," and the course of their lives, and the lives of mankind, were changed (Gen. 6-7, 22). Whether or not one accepts the Christian concept of creation, countless works of art are patterned on this account of the "fall from innocence." The novel Grendel by John Gardner shows us a side of the "beast" the epic Beowulf never considered - the child-like innocence before the brutality. The song "Country Girl" by Neil Young is a…show more content… Three years after her marriage to Osmond, the dusky colors of fall permeate the screen. Where there once were fresh greens and yellows and reds, blue shadows fall, a mere aside to the shadows in Isabel's heart. "I can't believe she's so cold," her cousin Ralph Touchett laments. "She's utterly changed" (POAL).
"Too late to keep the change," the chorus of "Country Girl" says, reflecting a idea common to all three works. In Grendel, bitterness consumes Grendel because he loses faith in the idea of love. Nothing is ever going to change, he tells himself, "talking, talking, spinning a spell, a pale skin of words that closes me in like a coffin" (Gardner 15). His "pale walls of dreams" are stronger and crueler than the walls erected by Hrothgar. In The Portrait of a Lady, Isabel endures her husband's irrational behavior until just before the death of her cousin. His death awakens her to the reality of true love and fulfillment, and she realizes how cruel Osmond was to deprive her of it. Madame Merle knows how depraved Osmond is, but she is beyond help. It is "too late to pay" for her crimes, but as a last effort to redeem herself, she shares her wisdom with Isabel (Young).
Isabel angrily refuses Merle's advice, unforgiving, as most would be. Madame Merle, and the "Country Girl" waitress, "did the things that we both did before now," but nobody