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Grendel And Cain And How They Relate In "Beowulf"

1554 words - 6 pages

Grendel and CainIn 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 (the protagonist, evil rival of Beowulf) and Cain (the evil brother of Able). In the Old Testament, Cain kills his brother Abel and is consequently punished and banished from the Garden of Eden by God. His actions proved to have a dramatic effect on the life of Grendel and the choices he makes throughout his life until his epic struggle for victory over the Geats and Beowulf himself. Symbolically and genetically, Grendel assumes the role of his ancestor Cain in this epic story as an outsider, disowned from the rest of society, finding a home only among the unknown (evil) and those who have sinned. Feeding on the flesh and blood of god's creations, Grendel starts a vigorous battle to destroy all that is good and the things he can not have. To the Anglo-Saxons and the creators of Beowulf, one of the worst crimes a person could have committed in life was that of murdering ones kin (or the killing of one's brother). During the era of this writing the figure of Cain is used metaphorically to represent "the unknown" (chaos, evil) and the presence of evil. Cain defies gods will and so he secludes himself to the evils of the surrounding world only to foster a hatred of god and a family cursed for eternity. The period in which Grendel and Cain resided in was deeply structured around the book of the lord (bible) and as a result created a society structured around the teachings and morals of its stories. The idea of friendship and kin being desecrated through the act of murder is one of the worst things a person can do and the consequences of that are severe. Grendel is a victim of his own world and the actions of his ancestors. The society for which Grendel wants to conquer and deny existence proves to be the creator and destroyer of his tragic being.In the classic story of Cain and Able, Cain enviously slays his brother Able in a vicious outcry of jealousy and anger. For his sin, he was banished from mankind for eternity and left only to live life displaced from the routines of normal beings and forced to live among the dark and the sinful. Cain was the first of a cursed family to be exiled for the sins he committed. His punishment proved to have a drastic effect on him and the future of his blood line. His punishment...

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