Existentialism In Grendel Essay

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Existentialism In Grendel The debate between existentialism and the rest of the world is a fierce, albeit recent one. Before the "dawn of science" and the Age Of Reason, it was universally accepted that there were such things as gods, right and wrong, and heroism. However, with the developing interest in science and the mechanization of the universe near the end of the Renaissance, the need for a God was essentially removed, and humankind was left to reconsider the origin of meaning. John Gardner’s intelligently written Grendel is a commentary on the merits and flaws of both types of worldview: the existentialist "meaning-free" universe, and the heroic universe, where every action is imbued with purpose and power. Indeed, the…show more content…
Waa!”) as well as his urgent need to define things and find a meaning for himself. Through his eyes are shown the futility of a romantic outlook and the destruction of a dream. "If the Shaper's vision of goodness and peace is a part of himself, not idle rhymes, then no one understands him at all," thinks Grendel, recognizing the divergence between reality and the heroic ideal. His defeat of Unferth marks the symbolic destruction of heroism, at least in his head; "So much for heroism," he concludes. Even Grendel's existence would seem to disprove the notions of the Shaper, who preaches the virtues of honor and courage. If the world is based on right and wrong, how can Grendel continue to survive? How can he kill senselessly every night, bring so much grief and torment to humans, and yet nothing come of it? "It's all the same in the end, matter or motion, simple or complex," whether he kills or not. In the beginning, Grendel decides that life must be devoid of meaning. Nihilism is, of curse, a rather depressing, if liberating, way to go through life, but such would seem to be the conclusion of the book. In order to understand what Gardner intends by this, one must look at the process through which Grendel turns nihilist. Psychologically, Grendel is an interesting character. He spends his entire life practicing the denial of truth. His first interaction with humans, conscious, thinking beings like himself, forces him to turn to
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