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John Gardner's Novel, "Grendel". Gives The Reader A New Perspective On The Classic 'good Vs. Evil'

860 words - 3 pages

John Gardner's novel Grendel give the reader a new perspective on the classic 'good vs. Evil' plot. From the start of the book the reader can tell that there is something very unique about the narrator. It is evident that the narrator is a very observant being that can express himself in a very poetic manner. The story is one the reader has most likely seen before, the battle between the glorious thanes and the 'evil' beast. In this case, however, the 'beast' is the eyes and ears of the reader. This, of course, forces the reader to analyze situations in the book in the same way that Grendel does. By using this viewpoint, the author allows his readers to see the other side of the coin. Therefore, throughout the course of the novel the reader is able to understand how important Grendel is in defining the humans.Grendel's first encounter with the human beings that he literally defines is not a pleasant one. After accidentally trapping himself in a tree he is discovered by a group of thanes out on patrol. Grendel expresses absolutely no hostile intentions towards these 'ridiculous' (ch.2, pp.24) creatures that 'moved by clicks.' (ch.2, pp.24) The thanes do not understand what Grendel is and are very uneasy about the whole situation. Like animals they are frightened of anything that is different from what they are used to. When Grendel attempts to communicate they show their ignorance and simple-mindedness. Instead of taking the time to understand the anomaly in their world they panic and decide to destroy it. Without being able to view the story from Grendel's point of view the reader might assume that the humans had every right to attack. Another example of the same type of simple-mindedness is their second premature attack on Grendel. After hearing the shaper's words Grendel weeps, ''Mercy! Peace!''(ch.4, pp.50) in the hopes of salvation from the god of these men. The men, in a drunken state, merely misunderstand Grendel's intentions and attack him once again. Instead of killing the men, which would have been an easy task for the giant, Grendel escapes into the night. This action alone defines the men as the 'beasts' and Grendel as the victim.Another aspect of the humans in the story that Grendel defines is their concept of a hero. Not only does he allow for heroes to exist he gives them their purpose in life. Grendel is the monster in the darkness that every loyal thane would defend his king against....

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