preview

The Evil Natures Of Grendel And The Dragon In Beowulf

Decent Essays
In the Old English epic poem Beowulf, the author conveys through the use of vivid diction and imagery, the evil natures of two monsters, Grendel and the dragon, by portraying the dragon as the lesser of the two evils. Both monsters symbolize the evil in human nature as they are enemies who bring destruction and wreak havoc to innocent people. In the Anglo-Saxon society Grendel represents evil, and the sin of man; traits that the Saxons neither valued nor respected, but in fact, feared. Though Grendel appears to be a wicked demon, the reader can infer that he is human, as he is described as a descendant of Cain, an outcast in the Bible. The dragon, on the other hand, is not human, but represents greed and evil or quite possibly, the devil. There are many biblical references in the poem, with the most prevalent being the very first human murder. In the book of Genesis, Cain murdered his brother Abel as he was jealous that God accepted Abel’s offering and not his. As a result, Cain was exiled from his homeland and became an outcast; hence why Grendel is a descendant of Cain. Like Cain, Grendel is a lonely, “enemy from hell,” and is jealous of the joy of Hrothgar’s people. This jealously spanned into “maddening with rage” (119) as every night, he repeatedly massacred Hrothgar’s men, “thrilled with his catch,” (123) in the mead-hall. For twelve winters Grendel’s appetite for blood remain unscathed as “peace was not in his mind” (153) towards the people of Heorot as he sought to
Get Access