In the Epic Poems Beowulf, by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet, and Grendel written by John Gardner, Grendel, regardless of what he does, has been seen as unsafe to man. Grendel, perceived as treacherous, is just misunderstood and an outcast to society. The back story of Grendel is crucial to the reader’s understanding of Grendel becoming a monster. Grendel’s life experiences of his environment, men and meeting a dragon contribute to the drastic change.
The novel Grendel, by John Gardner, gives the reader an inside look on the “monster… demon… [and] fiend” (Beowulf, 99) who, in Beowulf (translated by Burton Raffel), seems only capable of destruction, sneaking around in the night and killing soldiers off by the dozen. Grendel is a non-human entity who possesses human characteristics; no one truly knows who or what he is. He is monstrously huge, absurdly strong, and insatiable (he has been murdering for approximately twelve years). He is a “[monster] born of Cain, [a] murderous [creature]” (Beowulf, 105-106). He lives with his mother in a swampy marsh that is secluded by a “pool of firesnakes” who guard “the sunken door” to the strange world of humans (Grendel, 16). Beowulf does not provide any information of where he came from or any history about him, except that he is a pre-cursed, wicked being with no conscience. This seems like a biased assumption because the story
In the epic of Beowulf, one of the warrior’s biggest adversaries is a creature from the swamp named Grendel. Although the character of Grendel is present for only a short portion in the story of Beowulf, Grendel signifies one of the important messages in the text about humanity. In Beowulf, Grendel is called a ‘monster’. However, if observed closely, analyzing the meaning behind the story, it is easy to see that Grendel is not a typical monster, in fact, it doesn’t seem like he is a monster at all. There is much evidence within the short period of the text where Grendel is present, which indicates he is
In the novel, the readers are allowed to see the progression of Grendel. As Grendel starts to grow up there are changes in his personality, more specifically his innocence. Grendel becomes conflicted, being the monster that he is and the choices that he makes. Grendel wants to know what his purpose in life is, or what is the purpose of life at all. While Grendel becomes evil there are signs him struggling against that way. Now I will talk about Grendel’s balance between good and evil.
One of the first things Grendel learned about humans is their knowledge and way of thinking. Through different difficult situations, Grendel learned that humans are much more dangerous than any wild animal as they are capable strategy makers. We can clearly see this at the second chapter, when he is
Grendel discovers and begins to gain the understanding/knowledge of different concepts such as power, etc. In addition, he observes how humans interact with one another throughout the twelve years of war; Yet, his attempt to communicate with humans gives him the title horrific monster. This leads to his loneliness and isolation from everyone. Furthermore, Grendel is left without any companion. Grendel can be best described as a monster who has human qualities but can be both rational and irrational. In Chapter 1, Grendel has an outburst because of the ram that appears.. “I stamp. I hammer the ground with my fists. I hurl and skull-size stone at him. He will not budge. I shake my two hairy fists at the sky and let out a howl so unspeakable that the water at my feet turns sudden ice and even I myself am I left uneasy.” This demonstrates how Grendel is hostile and belligerent. His emotions get the best of him and blinds his consciousness and awareness of how harmful he can be towards
In the novel, Grendel by John Gardener, Grendel is a human-like creature capable of rational thought as well as feeling emotions. Early on in the story Gardener depicts Grendel as being very observant, critical and somewhat spiteful of the world around him. He describes himself as a murderous monster who smells of death and crouches in the shadows. Grendel watches the humans from the shadows of the trees and at first it seems as though they are the real monsters, slaughtering and pillaging all for the sake of their leaders and for power. This light that the humans are put in gives Grendel a certain charisma about him, making him seem like the one to side with in this novel. Later in the story, however, things change. Grendel seeks out the
Grendel is a monster. He has instincts that he cannot overcome. It is almost a kind of creature nature that tells him what to do. He does not have a solid reason for killing these humans brutally other then fact that they started this war with him. When asked why, Grendel asks why not. "How, if I know all this, you may ask, could I hound
Grendel exhibits human feelings and characteristics in many ways. Although Grendel is a monster “forced into isolation by his bestial appearance and limited imagination” (Butts) he yearns to be a part of society; he craves
"The sky says nothing, predictably. I make a face, uplift a defiant middle finger, and give an obscene little kick. The sky ignores me, forever unimpressed. Him too I hate, the same as I hate these brainless budding trees, these brattling birds (Gardner 6)." He also developed a hatred toward humans after getting stuck in the tree. On that dark night, he learned that humans were dangerous because they tried to hurt him instead of helping him. "It wasn't because he threw that battle-ax that I turned on Hrothgar. That was mere midnight foolishness... It wasn't until later, when I was full-grown and Hrothgar was an old, old man, that I settled my soul on destroying him—slowly and cruelly (Gardner 30).” The humans were not as innocent as the Shaper perceived them to be. Grendel lurked in the darkness and watched them as they battled and destroyed their own kind. Ultimately, the dragon with the dark scales made an immense impact on Grendel’s character. Grendel was not sure of his purpose in life, and the dragon confirmed that he should be evil by killing the humans. At first, Grendel resisted. However, hatred led to Grendel’s determination to punish mankind.
Grendel in a situation where he is feeling different emotions that make him act a certain way. Every time Grendel terrorizes human beings, it seems vile and full of hate, but that is not the intention. People fail to acknowledge why the relationship between Grendel and humans is full of hate. The awful relationship started off when they started off with a negative impression due to the lack of communication. Grendel became scared of the humans and the only thing the humans can do is defend themselves when they see an enormous monster. While Grendel knows of his evil deeds he is still confused about what his true identity is. This failure to figure out his identity is what Grendel seems to try and achieve throughout the novel. It is not easy for him because of the position he has in life. Grendel does not truly know his place in the world and he strives throughout his life to find the answer.
Disregarding the proofs of humanity, Grendel himself still refers to himself as somewhat of a monster. Through the majority of his actions, most would agree. For example, “...Hrothgar’s meadhall, Still sleep, killed two guards so I wouldn’t be misunderstood, and left.” (pg.90) Grendel terrorizes humans across the land and sees them as if they were only something to hunt and eat. Another trait that could be considered monstrous, is the fact that most living creatures including man and animal fear him just by glance as described in the passage “ The doe in the clearing goes stiff at the site of my horridness, then remembers her legs and is gone.”(pg.7). This is because of his physical traits. He has sharp jagged teeth, he’s covered in hair, and he is otherwise consider something more closely resembling that of an animal rather than a human. but, when you look at the bigger picture, humans can almost be considered worse.
From all of this, the only real explanation for his war on the Danes is this: Grendel is pure evil. “So Hrothgar 's men lived happy in his hall till the monster stirred, that demon, that fiend, Grendel, who haunted the moors” (Beowulf 1: Line 15). Hrothgar 's men, firstly, provoked Grendel simply by being happy. Any demon such as Grendel hates happiness and wants nothing but to steal, kill, and destroy that happiness in someone 's life. Throughout Beowulf, Grendel is called many names, and demon, monster, and fiend are the most frequent. It is no wonder he loved killing. Grendel was born into evil, said to be a descendant of Cain, the world 's first murderer. Grendel 's mother was evil herself, being a sea serpent who did not stray from indulging in evil either. One the fact of Grendel being evil, one piece of evidence stands above them all. “Killing as often as he could, coming alone, bloodthirsty, and horrible. Though he lived in Herot, when the night hid him, he never dared to touch King Hrothgar 's glorious throne; protected by God” (Beowulf 2: Line 80). God is good, and He will always triumph. Grendel knew he could not match the power of God, who loved Hrothgar 's throne. If Grendel were to
Grendel, is thus seen as the descendant of an individual who epitomizes resentment and malice in Beowulf. The author states Grendel lives in exile and is seen as “mankind’s enemy”(Raffel, 22). Grendel is the representation of all that is evil and he is declared to be the “shepherd of evil and the “guardian of crime”(Raffel, 33) by the Danes in Beowulf. The author describes Grendel to be an evil, cruel, apathetic creature who’s pleasure lies in attacking and devouring Hrothgar’s men. The author describes Grendel’s malice by painting a gruesome picture of Grendel’s countless attacks on the mead hall in which he exhibits Grendel as a heartless, greedy, and violent being who mercilessly murders the men at the mead hall by tearing them apart, cutting their body into bits and drinking the blood from their veins. The author describes Grendel’s greed by stating Grendel’s thoughts were as “quick as his greed or his claws”(Raffel, 21). He describes Grendel’s as having eyes that “gleamed in the darkness and burned with a gruesome light”, swift hard claws and great sharp teeth which paints a picture of Grendel’s frightening appearance in the reader’s mind. In contrast to the traditional story of Beowulf, Grendel in John Gardner’s novel, Grendel is not depicted as a monster but as an intelligent creature capable of human thought, feelings and speech. John Gardner portrays Grendel as an outcast
It may be that at one point Grendel was a human much like Beowulf. "Yet, so as to save his life, he left behind his hand, his arm and shoulder" (957-959). He has the appearance of a man and he has a mother, but the humanness of Grendel has disappeared, and what remains is a creature that as the text says, "the Creator had condemned." Instead of saying that Grendel was just a real bad guy, through these descriptions, he has taken on a supernatural or mystical quality. God was even concerned enough to curse Grendel for his atrocities.