The Epic Of Beowulf And Grendel

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When one first encounters the epic poem Beowulf, they are usually taken aback by the differences between the text of the Anglo Saxons at that time and our present culture. This tale of a heroic warrior, Beowulf, defeating his opponent, Grendel, is certainly different from current works of fiction. Differences in diction, context, and characters allow readers to see how different other cultures were, and whether or not these differences carry over into other cultures. It is no secret that things have changed since that time, somewhere around 580-1000 A.D. Perhaps these changes contribute to the differences encountered in various types of media about the same story. For example, Beowulf the epic poem focuses on Beowulf’s strength, whereas…show more content…
A lot of Grendel’s behavior is a result of his descent. “Cain got no good from committing that murder because the Almighty made him anathema and out of the curse of his exile there sprang ogres and elves and evil phantoms” (Heaney, Seamus page 9). References to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel throughout the epic allow readers to infer that Grendel comes from a cursed bloodline. This was common during this time period, as kinship was weighed heavily in determining a person’s character. In this time, it was not common to see an antagonist as complex as the hero of the story, which is why Grendel is very plainly evil. As the story progresses, there is no change in his character, and even in his defeat, it is hard for readers to sympathize with him because of this. He is constantly described as a monstrous creature, one of pure evil, which adheres to the thinking of simplistic duality present in the culture of the Anglo Saxons. Everything was simply good or evil by nature, and Grendel obviously fell under the latter. While that was considered normal for that time period, current audiences would not accept it so willingly. Our culture is one of reasoning and logic, questioning everything without simply accepting it. In the time of the epic, they simply embraced what was and demanded no explanation. Perhaps this contributes largely to the difference in text and film, and why characters pursue different quests.
In Beowulf and Grendel,
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