Similarities Between Grendel and Frankenstein

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About this sample


Words: 639 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 639|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024


Monsters have long served as metaphors within literature, offering a lens through which to examine the complexities of human nature and societal flaws. Two of the most compelling monstrous figures in Western literature are Grendel from the epic poem "Beowulf" and Frankenstein's creature from Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein." Despite originating from vastly different time periods and cultural contexts, these characters share striking similarities in their origins, their interactions with human society, and the existential questions they raise. This essay aims to explore these similarities, demonstrating how both Grendel and Frankenstein's creature serve as manifestations of human fears and failures.

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To begin with, both Grendel and Frankenstein's creature emerge from a context of isolation and rejection. Grendel, a descendant of the biblical Cain, is condemned to a life of solitude and scorn in the shadowy outskirts of human civilization. His monstrous form ensures he will never be accepted by the societies he observes from a distance, engendering a deep-seated resentment and hostility towards humanity. Similarly, Frankenstein's creature is brought to life through Victor Frankenstein’s scientific endeavors, only to be immediately shunned by his creator and society at large. The creature's grotesque appearance precludes any possibility of acceptance, resulting in profound loneliness and a desperate yearning for companionship. In both cases, the monsters' isolation is not of their own making but is imposed upon them by a society that is quick to judge based on appearance.

Another significant similarity lies in their interactions with humanity, which are marked by escalating cycles of violence and retribution. Grendel's initial attacks on the mead hall of Heorot are acts of vengeance against a society that has excluded him, and each subsequent attack serves to deepen the enmity between him and the Danes. The cycle of violence reaches its zenith when Beowulf arrives to confront and ultimately kill Grendel, cementing his status as an irredeemable monster. Frankenstein's creature, on the other hand, begins with a more benevolent disposition, seeking understanding and acceptance. However, repeated rejections and hostilities from humans, including the murder of a child by the creature’s own hand, drive him to a path of vengeance against his creator. The creature's acts of violence, culminating in the deaths of several of Victor’s loved ones, highlight the tragic consequences of societal rejection and the failure of compassion.

The existential questions posed by both Grendel and Frankenstein's creature further underscore their similarities. Grendel, in John Gardner’s novel "Grendel," grapples with questions of meaning, identity, and the nature of good and evil. His philosophical musings reveal a creature deeply aware of his own existence and the arbitrary nature of his monstrous identity. Frankenstein's creature similarly engages in profound self-reflection, questioning the morality of his own actions and the ethical implications of his creation. In a poignant moment, the creature confronts Victor, asking, "Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay / To mould me Man, did I solicit thee / From darkness to promote me?" This line, borrowed from John Milton's "Paradise Lost," encapsulates the creature's existential anguish and his search for purpose in a world that has rejected him. Both characters, through their introspection, challenge the reader to consider the nature of monstrosity and the ethical responsibilities of creators and societies.


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In conclusion, Grendel and Frankenstein's creature, though products of different literary traditions and historical contexts, share profound similarities in their origins, interactions with human society, and the existential dilemmas they embody. Their stories serve as powerful critiques of societal exclusion, the consequences of unchecked scientific ambition, and the ethical responsibilities toward those deemed 'other.' Through their narratives, both Grendel and Frankenstein's creature illuminate the darker aspects of human nature and the societal constructs that create and perpetuate monstrosity. Ultimately, their tales compel readers to reflect on the ways in which we define and treat those who differ from us, urging a reconsideration of the boundaries between humanity and monstrosity.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Similarities Between Grendel and Frankenstein. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“Similarities Between Grendel and Frankenstein.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
Similarities Between Grendel and Frankenstein. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
Similarities Between Grendel and Frankenstein [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from:
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