17 September 2017
Grendel’s Outcast Status: Cain or Born that Way?
Throughout the story of Beowulf, there is obvious Christian influences from the monk’s translation from old English to modern English, and these influences are extremely apparent when we get to the section featuring Grendel. Grendel is an outcast in this society making him grotesque and dangerous in the eyes of the Danes and this characterization of him depicts the discrepancies between the Christian’s views and Pagan’s views on who is Grendel and what makes him the horrible foe he is.
It all begins with why Grendel is an outcast, what makes him so undesirable that he cannot be a part of society and must watch on from the outside in exile. In Pagan society, the explanation for why he’s in exile is due to the fact he is fatherless and the ancestors he does have, lived as outcasts throughout their lives and within the feudal society that Beowulf takes place in, once you are born into a certain level in society, a majority of the time you are stuck in whichever tier you were born into and unfortunately for Grendel, he was born into the outcast caste. He could have easily taken a different role in this story from a Pagan point of view, if he had been a high-born, then he would not have had to look on at the rest of the Danes partying and life his lonely life where, “It harrowed him to hear the din of the loud banquet every day in the hall, the harp being struck and the clear song of a skilled poet,” (Beowulf lines 87-90) which made him the aggressive beast he comes off as; deep down behind the characterization of him being this evil monster he has feelings and wants to be accepted, despite his outcast status and Grendel’s constant rejection in this society is what fuels his internal fire to get payback on these people. This also explains why in the Pagan view they would see him as disgusting and unable to fit in with society. The Danes just saw him as someone who looks like a monster, “warped in the shape of a man, [who] moves beyond the pale bigger than any man, an unnatural birth,” (Beowulf 1351-1353) and a, “fatherless creature,” (Beowulf 1355) low-born outcast, which made him unacceptable to be a part of their society, despite him doing nothing bad himself before his rampage; they did not at all base his outcast status on a...