The Influences On Grendel Essay

753 words - 4 pages

Throughout the novel Grendel by John Gardner, the monster Grendel has many different encounters that change his view on the world. Whether it was through nihilism, existentialism, or idealism Grendel was influenced in many ways by all of them. The monster Grendel starts out as an existentialist, but morphs into a nihilist after he talks to the most nihilistic character in the book, the dragon. Influenced through nihilism, existentialism, and idealism Grendel is reshaped and sculpted into a new thing entirely.
Grendel is first influenced by nihilism in our book. "Why can't I have someone to talk to?" I said. The stars said nothing, but I pretended to ignore the rudeness. "The Shaper has ...view middle of the document...

”(p. 93) Even in Grendel's ongoing search for meaning he still hasn’t turned fully nihilistic. Instead he fixates on yet another external factor: Queen Wealtheow. In her, he sees the human virtues of charity, compassion, and selflessness. His own cynical outlook cannot comprehend a world in which someone such as Wealtheow exists. Her very existence contradicts Grendel's own self-centered philosophy, but to destroy her would be to admit that she has some meaning independent of his own.
Second, existentialism helped reconfigure Grendel into a monster. “I was Grendel, Ruiner of Meadhalls, Wrecker of Kings! But also, as never before, I was alone.”(p. 80) Grendel makes this statement when he discovers that the dragon's curse has left him invulnerable to harm from the Scylding's weapons. He glories in this power, but realizes that his impenetrable hide now separates him even more from the world of men. Grendel recognizes that his condition has not improved, but has instead become much more hopeless as he seeks a place in this world. “So much for heroism. So much for the harvest-virgin. So much, also, for the alternative visions of blind old poets and...

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