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Grendel Essay

1172 words - 5 pages

Homo sapiens, otherwise known as humans, throughout time have created massive empires, resilient civilizations, and eloquent leaders. But at what price did we pay to rise above our ancestral nomadic ways in order to reach a “civilized state”? We as a species, who claim to rule earth, have done little to aid the very planet that supports us. We destroy ecosystems, cause other species to become extinct, and create disastrous conflicts between our own brethren. Humans, generally, have a very biased perspective on our race: we are taught only what people of power want us to know, and we only view our species at our own perspective because there is no other species capable of having the mental capacity to inform us otherwise. Therefore, we are, for the most part, ignorant to our own damaging effects to the earth and our very existence. The human race has many flaws some as evident as the color of the sky on a clear day and others more difficult to comprehend. Grendel, written by John Gardner, depicts the story of the epic poem, Beowulf, at the perspective of Grendel. Grendel has the ability to view these flaws objectively; similar to his contemporary counter part Ishmael from Ishmael. Both creatures have the ability to perceive the human race at an objective point of view. Grendel is also similar to John in Brave New World, in that, like John, Grendel is similar to another group of individuals, yet different enough to not be capable of assimilation.
Grendel’s similarities to humans allow him to analyze human behavior effectively. Although he may not comprehend the exact reason for certain actions the humans perform, he does, at least, have the ability to examine them. Grendel watched as the Danes threw rings and swords into a funeral pyre (14). Grendel possesses qualities very similar to man; he has the ability to speak and to feel sympathy. Grendel communicates with Unfearth when Unfearth confronts him in Hrothgar’s meadhall (83) He feels sympathy for the murdered corpse he finds at the outskirts of a Danish town (50-51). Grendel faces many of the internal conflicts of man such as the desire for self-assurance and identity that can be seen through his asking of his mother questions of existence and the emotional setback he endures when he believes the Shaper’s claim that Grendel is “the dark side” cursed by God (11, 51). He also faces some of the external conflicts of man like hardship and war. These conflicts are shown by his 12 year war against the Danes and the inability to communicate with his mother (5, 28). Because Grendel possesses these qualities it makes his role as an objective viewer of humans credible and valid. Typically, for one to provide proper insight on the way a species lives they would have to understand behaviors of the species which coincides with experiencing some of their conflicts.
Although Grendel is very similar to humans he is in reality not a human. Grendel is a monstrous creature who is distant from the human race...

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