This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Stain Of Cain Essay

2013 words - 8 pages

Epic poems are usually black and white; there is a superhuman good-guy and a powerful but doomed villain that he will defeat. As readers, we have always assumed that the hero is the person with the good values and unwavering morals while the enemy is the strong and seemingly undefeatable spawn of pure evil. John Gardner had other ideas when he wrote Grendel based on the antagonist of the classic epic “Beowulf.” Quickly, the reader is immersed in Grendel’s thoughts and sees that he too is fighting inner demons. Just as in regular epics, Grendel’s main villains (for he hates almost everyone) are just composite beings of his true nemesis. Ultimately, Grendel was self-defeating since he dedicated his life to theology which cannot stand the test of time.
Grendel constantly toys with different theologies throughout the novel. We see him try Solipsism in his youth, determining that “finally and absolutely, I alone exist. All the rest, I saw, was merely what pushes me, or what I push against, blindly—as blindly as all that is not myself pushes back” (22). This theory that nothing holds true meaning until he gives it meaning could only last so long. Soon, he was frightened that if this is true, he does not exist either, because he realizes that the only proof he has of his existence is that he thinks he exists, but means nothing at all if he does not exist. Grendel’s entire world is thrown off kilter—if he does not exist then everything he thinks exists does not exist either; but then what does?
While he struggles with his own theology, he questions the faith of the villagers as well. When he overhears the Shaper recounting the story of Cain and Abel he states, “the brothers had never lived, nor the god who judged them” (51). Grendel cannot get himself to believe in a god at first because he realizes that he is alienated for murdering, yet he is holding a man slain from a drunken duel. He does not see the hypocrisy, instead he sees it as proof that either both he and mankind are cursed or neither, and, because of his unfair sentence, it is impossible that a true judge could ever have existed (51). This feeling is deepened as he grows older, seeing the priests pray to wooden idols and watching the people ruin the beauty and resources the land once supplied. One night he watches a priest pray to one of these idols, asking it to defend the people from Grendel by killing him and alleviating their problem. Grendel’s response is to scoff. “I smile, arms folded on my chest, and wait, but nobody comes to kill me” (127). The complete lack of any miraculous events only confirms Grendel’s atheism.
When Grendel decides to talk to the dragon, it seems that he has made the right decision. The dragon’s response to all the theories about living is that they are “games, games, games!” (64). The dragon continues on to say that their theories have “no total vision, total system, merely schemes with a vague family resemblance, no more identity than bridges and, say,...

Find Another Essay On The Stain of Cain

Essay describing the use of religious aspects in the book "East of Eden" by John Steinebck; uses "timshel" and the story of Cain and Abel; shows different aspects of the characters using these stories

904 words - 4 pages . By using the story of Cain and Abel, along with the ever-popular translation of timshel, Steinbeck forces his readers to look at the characters he has developed in unusual ways.The story of Cain and Abel is one strong Biblical reference used in the novel, East of Eden. This is a theme that can be seen throughout the story. Like Lee said when he, Adam and Samuel were naming the boys, "...the Cain and Abel story...I think it is the symbol story

1952 Film East of Eden as Midrash. What "problem points" in the Bible does East of Eden address? How are these areas resolved? Is it a modern midrash on the Cain and Abel story?

813 words - 3 pages In the 1952 film East of Eden, director and darshan Elia Kazan attempts to resolve the moral tension in the Cain and Abel story by depicting Cal as a sympathetic character. The ambiguity of the biblical account is responsible for much of this tension. God does not offer a reason for accepting Abel's gift and rejecting Cain's. Neither of the brothers have a distinct personality, and so the motivation for the murder is left to speculation. Why is

The Rich Brother by Tobias Wolff

869 words - 3 pages The Rich Brother by Tobias Wolff Works Cited Not Included Tobias Wolff's short story, "The Rich Brother", is a parallel story to the biblical fable of Able and Cain. The biblical story of Able and Cain is that of the first story that puts man against man. Cain and Able are children of Adam and Eve, where Cain is the eldest and Able the younger of the two. In the biblical story Cain and Able end up giving gifts (sacrifices) to appease to

Gene and Phineas in "A Seperate Peace" by John Knowle

936 words - 4 pages In John Knowles's A Separate Peace, Gene is not the same quality character that Phineas happens to be. Gene and Phineas are best friends at the Devon School, and Gene, angry because of Phineas' athletic talent and social abilities, "jounced the limb" (Knowles, 53) in order to knock Finny out of the tree. This is similar to the story of Cain and Abel in the King James Bible. Cain and Abel are brothers, the sons of Adam and Eve, and both make

Soul Catcher

1057 words - 4 pages American Literature, Section 310 January 2014Man in a CornerAugustus Cain is a good person, despite his background and upbringing he was able to emerge through the narrative. Cain is a man in the corner; his conditions determine his values and morals. He lost himself to himself and his own society. Although, he has lost himself he evolves and turns into a "soul catcher" throughout this novel many times, one of the souls he's caught was even his

A Comparison of Stain Removers

2989 words - 12 pages Introduction/Background One problem that many people come across in their daily lives is dealing with stains. The problem with stains is that by the time people figure out which remover to use, it may be too late to remove the stain. Not everyone is knowledgeable about the different types of stains and stain removers. Knowing which stain remover works best on which stains can help someone save their favorite piece of clothing. Starting with

RP Cest

691 words - 3 pages As soon as Trahearne gave his consent, Cain locked lips with the sylvari again. Making full use of the fact that Trahearne had slightly opened his mouth, Cain slipped in his tongue. He could feel the initial surprise this brought to Trahearne, but soon Cain could feel him mimicking his movements. The kiss itself — he made sure — was very gentle. As he explored the sylvari’s mouth with his tongue and could feel Trahearne doing the same, a thought

Analyzing Source Essay

884 words - 4 pages Susan Cain, in her book “The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” explores introversion and extroversion and how introverts are powerful in their own way, using their unique way of working together and thinking skills/styles to influence the world around them, using many sources to back up her information and tell her story correctly. One source Cain uses is Carl G. Jung who studied types of behaviors and came up with

Grendel and Cain and how they relate in "Beowulf"

1554 words - 6 pages 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

James Cain's Life and Mildred Pierce

1326 words - 5 pages James Cain's Life and Mildred Pierce         Five Works Cited            James M. Cain's biography produced different events that reappear in       Mildred Pierce. The son of James and Rose Cain, James M. Cain was born in       Annapolis, Maryland. He was the oldest of five siblings. James

Biblical Worldview

1027 words - 5 pages out of the Garden of Eden. This identifies the male and female’s roles in marriage and how the household is meant to be ran for as long as the earth is in existence. As God kicking Adam and Eve out into the world they had to figure out everything for themselves, as time goes by they bring two sons names Cain and Abel. For Cain and Abel they are the first form of human relationships, Cain and Able both had to give their sacrifices to God. In

Similar Essays

Roth: The Stain Of Mankind Essay

1602 words - 6 pages The Stain of Mankind In life you are faced with many challenges and hardships. It is these experiences and how you react to them that shapes and gives you your character. The Human Stain, a novel by Philip Roth is a detailed account of the past of the characters and how the choices that they made build them to be the person that they are today. Everyone has things that they are not proud of from their past. These are essentially the human

The Stain Of The Jim Crow Laws

1003 words - 4 pages mixing of white students with black students. In time, the discrimination of race faded out through various acts passing such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (“Jim Crow Laws”). The stain of the Jim Crow laws has haunted this country for years, even after the efforts made to reverse the damage. Discrimination still exists today, some of which was fueled by this time period of

The Story Of Cain And Abel(Summarized)

627 words - 3 pages The Story of Cain and Abel(Summarized) Generally, when believers in Christianity hear the word "Cain," they immediately think of "brother-slayer," "hell," and all sorts of evil. Who was Cain and what led him to be a "brother-slayer"? In my essay, I shall tell the tragic story of two brothers and how their brotherhood ends in utter destruction. This story shows how just one ounce of jealousy can cause cold-blooded murder. Cain was indeed the

"Demian" By Hermann Hesse And The Story Of Cain And Able

632 words - 3 pages The allusion of the story of Cain and Able are very prevalent in Demian. Sinclair and Cain parallel. Hesse uses an alternate translation of the story of Cain and Able, which Demian explains in the beginning of the novel to depict the parallel. Hesse sets up Demian's translation to provide as a guide for Sinclair to find his own meaning in life. Sinclair embarks on a spiritual and personal journey to find out exactly who he is and why he is