Depiction of Grendel in Beowulf and John Gardner's Book

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Words: 664 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2019

Words: 664|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2019

In the epic poem Beowulf, Grendel is seen as pure evil and nothing more. He brings bad things and he kills loved ones. The epic poem just shows him as a monster who needs to be killed. In John Gardners novel, Grendel, the monster is showed as bringing good things through his evil, like art and poetry. Grendel is also depressed and confused. He is confused about how he should view life. In the end it doesnt matter because he is still confused and the humans kill him.

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Grendel, as shown in John Gardners novel, is a story of the struggle of good versus evil. John Gardner shows that neither good can not exist without evil. Just like beauty and ugliness, good and evil are only definitely in contrast of one another. If there was nothing that was beautiful then nothing could be ugly. So, having no such thing as good would make evil non-existent. In Grendel, Gardner describes this concept with a confused and depressed monster and the society of humans he terrorizes.

Throughout the novel, the monster, Grendel, is confused with how he wants to view life. He can either view life like the dragon or like the humans that he kill. This problem makes Grendel go on his rampages and kill the humans. He wants to view life as the humans at times because of the Sharper. The Sharper gets Grendels attention by his songs, they bring up emotions in Grendel that he doesnt like and he goes on his rampages. Then at other times he wants to get the knowledge of the dragon and he goes on his rampages of the human village because he cant have this knowledge. When the dragon and Grendel meet, the dragon tell Grendel something that changes his outlook and in a way gives him self-confidence. The dragon tells Grendel that he stimulates the humans and inspires their poetry and art. He is telling Grendel that you are evil and they are good, but they are good because of you. Grendel's evil motivates the fearful people to work, to strive, to think, and to overcome their problems. The humans need Grendel and they pushed him to be the monster that he is. Grendel is actually producing good. Amazingly, he manages to be both evil and good at the same time.

Also, Grendel could not survive without the good humans. He thrives off of killing people, not because he is hateful, but because it gives him a purpose in life. The songs of the Shaper drive him to do evil things. Grendel understands that the songs are important to him and his life, but he still doesnt like them.

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The novel, Grendel, and the epic poem, Beowulf, in my opinion arent really talking about the same Grendel. It is still the same story, but not the same character. In the novel we understand Grendel and we understand why he did the evil things that he did. We find out that he is confused about his life. The story is really about the struggle between good and evil and how one cant exist without the other. Grendel is evil and good and so are the humans. They both do bad things and they both do good things. The epic poem is just a story about a hero, Beowulf, that comes from another land to save the day. The poem doesnt show anything about what Grendel was feeling. Maybe, in the poem, he wasnt feeling anything. Maybe he was just a heartless monster. In the novel, Grendel isnt just a heartless blood-thirsty monster, he is evil and good. He was important to his victims because he brought good with his evil. Grendel didnt really want to feed on humans. The humans expected this evil of him and they wanted him to be a monster. The humans needed Grendel and they pushed him to be the monster that he is.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Depiction of Grendel in Beowulf And John Gardner’s Book. (2019, February 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 17, 2024, from
“Depiction of Grendel in Beowulf And John Gardner’s Book.” GradesFixer, 12 Feb. 2019,
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