The Epic Of Beowulf Essay

1227 words - 5 pages

The story of Beowulf is a heroic epic chronicling the illustrious deeds of the great Geatish warrior Beowulf, who voyages across the seas to rid the Danes of an evil monster, Grendel, who has been wreaking havoc and terrorizing the kingdom. Beowulf is glorified for his heroic deeds of ridding the land of a fiendish monster and halting its scourge of evil while the monster is portrayed as a repugnant creature that shows no remorse for its evil actions. In the epic poem, Beowulf the authors portrays Grendel as a cold-hearted beast who thrives on the pain of others. Many have disagreed with such a simplistic and biased representation of Grendel and his role in the epic poem. John Gardner in his book, Grendel set out to change the reader’s perception of Grendel and his role in Beowulf by narrating the story through Grendel’s point of view. John Gardner transforms the perceived terrible evil fiend who is Grendel into a lonely but intelligent outcast who bears a striking resemblance to his human adversaries. In Grendel, John Gardner portrays Grendel as an intelligent being capable of rational thought as well as displaying outbursts of emotion. He portrays Grendel as a hurt individual and as a victim of oppression ostracized from civilization. The author of Beowulf portrays Grendel as the typical monster archetype as compared to John Gardner’s representation of Grendel as an outcast archetype.

The author of Beowulf demonizes Grendel by depicting him as being purely a monster as compare to John Gardner who depicts Grendel not as a savage monster but as an intelligent being who has human like qualities and characteristics. In the traditional story, Grendel is depicted as a bloodthirsty fiend driven by his greedy animal instincts. Grendel is described as a being that was “conceived by a pair of those monsters born of Cain, murderous creatures banished by God, punished forever for the crime of Abel’s death” (Raffel, 21). Grendel is thus seen as the descendant of an individual who epitomizes resentment and malice in Beowulf. The author states Grendel lives in exile and is seen as “mankind’s enemy” (Raffel, 22). Grendel is the representation of all that is evil and he is declared the “shepherd of evil and the “guardian of crime” (Raffel, 33) by the Danes in Beowulf. The author describes Grendel to be an evil, cruel, apathetic creature whose pleasure lies in attacking and devouring Hrothgar’s men. The author describes Grendel’s malice by painting a gruesome picture of Grendel’s countless attacks on the mead hall in which he exhibits Grendel as a heartless, greedy, and violent being who mercilessly murders the men at the mead hall by tearing them apart, cutting their body into bits and drinking the blood from their veins. The author describes Grendel’s greed by stating Grendel’s thoughts were as “quick as his greed or his claws” (Raffel, 21). He describes Grendel’s as having eyes that “gleamed in the darkness and burned with a gruesome light”, swift hard...

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