Grendel and Cain and how they relate in "Beowulf"

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Grendel and Cain

In the story of Beowulf you get a glimpse of many different themes throughout this epic. Those themes range from good and evil to those of death and glory. The story itself depicts a period in history when life was lead "blind" through the teachings of the book of the lord and his spoken words. At this same period in history traditional pagan religious practices and beliefs have slowly given way to the ideals and philosophy of Christianity. Many of the themes held within the pages of Beowulf stem from the proverbs and fables recited and practiced in the Old Testament, while concurrently adding pagan beliefs of monsters, demons, and multiple gods. The most striking of these biblical comparisons is viewed between Grendel
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For his sin he was expelled from Eden. From that day on he led the life of an exile, doomed to be "a fugitive and wanderer in the earth" (Gen. 4:12) and denied the rights of a normal man, only to bare the mark of a sinner and warning to others. With this Cain walked into the land of Nod (unknown, evil, dark), only to leave a legacy felt by the generations of his offspring.

When Cain killed Able, he ignited the eternal flame of a cursed family. From Cain's blood came "the curse of his exile and sprang ogres and elves and evil phantoms and the giants too" (Beowulf. Pg. 35), darkness entailed is legacy and evil embodied his future. Grendel is a descendant of Cain, so he shares Cain's exile from all that is good and light. Cain may have been the first displaced person after Adam and Eve, but he was not the last. Grendel shares his ancestor's punishment, he is exiled not only from whatever land or wealth he would have had if he were "human", but he is also abandoned by God and all who followed and indulge in his faith and grandeur. It is this abandonment that causes Grendel to destroy and murder. "The treasure seat, he was kept from approaching; he was the Lords outcast" (Beowulf pg.36), since he cannot approach the throne of the Lord like the rest of mankind, he chooses to attempt to destroy it. He has no love for God and his children if he can not be with them "hand in hand". However, unlike Cain and his parents, Grendel is doomed from

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