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Grendel, John Gardner - Analysis

Keywords: grendel evaluation, grendel summary

In John Gardner's Grendel, he reveals Grendel as a unique character. Gardner portrays Grendel as a misunderstood, baffled yet a intricate creature. Whom he humanizes. Personally i think that by portraying him this way, Gardner shows how there are two factors to each tale. This makes him more relatable to the audience. Grendel is monstrous, but not brutish. Grendel is a persona who is capable of learning, thinking, sensing emotions and communicating.

Personally what draws in me to Grendel is his attention. Readers can relate with Grendel in many ways. He is aware that his actions are cruel, yet he wishes to comprehend why he continues in them. Grendel has been at war with the Danes and it was "twelfth 12 months of his idiotic war" (5). Grendel is aware that his battle with the Danes is a circuit, that involves him eliminating people but he still continues it. He knows what he is doing is ridiculous and idiotic because he describes it as "idiotic" (5). I feel that the reason he still goes on with the conflict is because he's curious to discover why he does indeed the thing he does. I think he is hoping for an epiphany. Grendel is longing for an answer. The curiosity of Grendel, provides reader the reasoning behind his episodes which makes him more understandable to the reader.

Like humans Grendel is able to learn quickly. He learns a whole lot about himself and the entire world while he is trapped in the tree. While he was through to the tree, Grendel realizes that depends upon is unstable. Quite simply, he thinks that the earth is chaotic and violent. "I realized that, finally and absolute, I together can be found" (22), Grendel realizes that he is alone nowadays. Through the entire novel it has been a learning process for him. During his first encounter he learns that humans are "no flat mechanical bull" (27) nevertheless they were the "most dangerous thing" (27) he has ever met. His first encounter with humans made him want to learn more about the humans which is why he observed humans. He'd watch them "from the eaves of the forest" (30), he wished to learn about humans. He noticed a reference to humans, even though they misunderstood him and attacked him. I think he found more of a reference to humans that with his own mom because they had similar qualities such as thinking, learning and attention. Personally i think that Grendel is an wise creature because he is able to use what he has learned from previous observations. He realized that the Danes "were doomed" (53), Grendel has seen people fight one another and destroy each other and he realized that the same fate awaited them. The way that Gardner portrays Grendel's rationalization and his ability to learn show how much of a complex character he's. He could recognize humans have an identical language.

Grendel like humans is also in a position to feel emotions. This is what separates him from the all the other creatures. When Grendel was jammed in the tree trunk, he "bellowed for [his] mother" (27). I feel sympathy for Grendel because he reminds me of a child. His patterns is childlike. He's in search of love just like another child. Grendel is frightened exactly like any child would be. By Gardner humanizing Grendel he is able to bring sympathy towards him. After sparing Unferth, every time he views him, he "roll[s] on the floor with laughter" is mocking him (90). Grendel is able to feel and shows that he understands that humans have feeling too because he has learned every time he mocks Unferth he knows that it eliminates him a little inside. When Grendel encounters Wealtheow, he describes her as "beautiful [and] as innocent as dawn on winter hills" (100). Wealtheow "tore [him] apart as after the shaper's song possessed done" (100). Grendel is transferred by her beauty. He previously the "greatest admiration" (144) for her.

Grendel's ability to believe attracts the audience because ability to think separates individuals from animals. He's a lttle bit of philosopher. He looks for, as an existentialist philosopher, to comprehend the type of his being and also to bring his characteristics to completion. He understands that the "world was little or nothing" (21). He is aware of the planet is little or nothing and a person define meaning to their life. His existential views are also shown when he was lured to whisper, "all of us must sooner or later cross" (145). He recognizes that people are only here for a short period of time. With his encounter with the dragon, he knows "the dragon could lie. He was evil enough" (71). Personally i think this shows how complex Grendel's thinking potential is. He is able to synthesize information about the dragon, after ending up in him and uses reasoning to determine that he couldn't trust the dragon. He concerns the dragon. I feel that this shows his ability to believe because uncertainty is caused by pondering and studying information and assessing the validity of the info.

Finally Grendel is a figure who is filled with pride. He feels that he is better than other creature. He considers other animals as low-life. He wonders "why can't these animals locate a little dignity" (6). He considers he is better than the bull because he has "dignity. " When he was fighting with each other with Beowulf he believes he is much better than humans. He feels he "can avoid him" (169). He thinks that he's much better than humans.

Point of view

In John Gardner's Grendel, Grendel, both the primary personality and narrator of the storyline, narrates the storyline from a first person perspective. I feel that adds an individual touch to the storyplot because all the feelings he explains are raw emotions. As I proceed through Grendel's life, I am sympathetic towards him because of his fresh emotions. Because it is told from the first person point of view, the emotions defined are the same exact emotions Grendel thought.

I think the reason why Gardner chose to inform it from Grendel's perspective because there are always two edges to each tale. Inside the epic, Grendel is portrayed as a simply monster who's simple evil and does not have any thoughts what so ever before. Gardner gives a chance for Grendel to tell his side of the storyline. Grendel's first face with men, they consider him as a "spirit' (25). The importance of the experience is not how he face men for the first time but the way the people reacted towards him. They misunderstood him from the start. They didn't even make an effort to understand him. At one point they though he was a "fungus" (24). Gardner uses Grendel to mention the theory that bullies are like monsters in a way because no person tries to understand them. People jump to conclusions without knowing all the reality like how they classified Grendel as a spirit without having any concrete data that proves he's a nature. Another example is when Grendel's mouth area "moved but nothing at all would come out" (26) and they expect that Grendel is eager. They mistaken him as an enemy, and the king "hurdles an axe towards at [Grendel]" (27). Personally i think bad for Grendel because everyone misunderstands him.

Grendel telling the story makes us feel pity towards him that was lacking in the original Beowulf. Within the epic Grendel was a monster who was pure evil but in Grendel, he's almost childlike making us feel pity towards him. When he had been attacked by humans, "he bellowed for his mom" (27) just like what sort of child would call out for his mother when a child is being chosen on. In Beowulf he is portrayed as an evil monster that was fearless and his mind set on killing but in Grendel he admits being "afraid of these" (79).

Grendel being narrated in first person contributes an individual touch to the book. Because the primary personality narrates the novel, raw feelings is described. Who's better to illustrate how he seems than Grendel. Throughout the novel, I get to know what exactly what Grendel is sensing and what is going through his mind. For instance during his first raid, he "felt an unearthly happiness" (79). Because he represents this as an initial person, it feels personal and the feelings see, strong but this would be lost if it was narrated in third person. Being narrated in first person amplifies the thoughts. For instance after attacking, he chose, "meaningless to destroy her" (110). We really know what is going through his brain, this amplifies any feeling we've towards Grendel. We would feel diversely towards Grendel if it was said through another person.

One thing that is lost through first person perspective is the reality. The facts are clouded because we have a limited point of view. We only see one area of the storyline, in cases like this Grendel's side on how the events happened. Grendel narrates the storyplot in earlier tense so his emotions are clouded with how he feels at this time. For example "I have ingested several priests. They take a seat on the belly like duck eggs" (129). He could have felt diversely when he previously actually ingested them but reflecting onto it, he feels they were like duck eggs.


One of the predominate topics in Grendel is the necessity for community. Through the entire book, Grendel is in search of community. Grendel frantically tries to squeeze in a community, but he'll always be an outsider. Grendel attempts to become listed on the individual community when he visited the hall and cried out "good friend! Friend! " (52). He wanted to participate the individuals community but he wasn't accepted. Just how people reacted towards him was they tried out to destroy him. He would observe human behavior. Season after season he would "watch from the high cliff wall membrane" (37) and watch humans and exactly how they fought. Why would he view humans if he didn't desire to be part of these community. He is certainly intrigued by them. Sometimes Grendel would feel "alone and unappealing" (17). Grendel relates being alone to ugliness so he needs companionship to feel great about himself. Personally i think that Grendel has a dependence on community is basically because he doesn't desire to be only. He has nobody to speak to. His own mother can't talk to him. He's in search of a companion. He's jealous of the shaper because he has "visitors to speak to" (53). Even though he would like companionship with humans he knows he will never fit in.

Grendel sees benefits and flaws with humans. I think Gardner is dealing with the benefits and disadvantages of individuals community through Grendel. Among the benefits he recognizes with community is teamwork. He called humans "Crafty-witted killers that did the trick in groups" (31) He admires their team work. Another profit he considers of community is how "they might listen to the other person at meadhall dining tables" (32). The problems that he considers with community is how much they waste. When he came up to the hall he say "cows in their pens place burbling bloodstream through their nostrils, with javelin openings in their neck of the guitar. None have been eaten" (33). Another problem he previously seen with communities was warfare. He observed how the "wars commenced" (34)He saw all the destruction of wars.

Another predominate theme in Grendel is art work. The shaper plays a huge part in this theme. Grendel is so enticed by the shaper that he wished to part of his tales. He was so enticed that the sharper made him believe he was area of the "dark area" (51). He was dependent on shaper's report and kept returning for much more. The Shaper's tunes implant in Grendel a sense of despair and desiring mental contact. He initially tries to repent and adopt the ideology of the humans in exchange of acceptance, however when he is turned down he instead chooses to fall into the role which the Shaper had given him. His idea of the Shaper changes after his encounter with the dragon. He realizes that the shaper is merely like everybody else which it was all an "illusion" (62). The way they change the world through the arts in build is by changing is background. History is informed by the victor. Shaper explains to people what they want to hear.

In the epic Grendel is a character of pure evil with no good motive in his heart that is if he has a heart. Gardner, on the other side runs on the different way in Grendel. In Grendel, Gardner shows some signal of goodness in him. On act of goodness is when he chooses not to kill Unferth. Unferth moves away and Grendel determines to "find him up smoothly and transported him home" (90). He seems pity towards him and decides not to get rid of him. Another function of goodness is when he makes a decision not to wipe out. Grendel cannot see himself past the monster that he is. Each and every time he does something bad he seems guilty, but every time he does something good he feels as though a sissy and an awful monster. Grendel is a monster because he allows his role as a monster. When new people show up he's "mad with enjoyment" (151) because he now has new visitors to terrorize. If he didn't admit his role as a monster why would maintain his twelfth yr.

Grendel has different idea of good and evil. To him humans are evil because they would constantly fight one another. He'd watch the "fighting taking place all that warmer summer months and begin again another" (36). He perceives how fighting contributes to destruction.


Grendel's cave has a both a symbolic and a literal so this means. In his mother's cave "large old styles with smoldering sight sat enjoying me. A continuing grumble arrived with their mouths; their backs were humped. Then over time it dawned on me that the sight that appeared to bore into my own body were in fact gazing through" (16). When he awakens Grendel represents the cave as "dark" (23). The caves symbolize darkness and the evil within it. They are really associated with each other because darkness can evoke fear which is what both caves and monsters do. The cave in this novel can be utilized in both literal and symbolic ways because a monster, Grendel, lives inside of it. The cave also presents the fact they are not necessarily evil because Grendel is not portrayed as a totally evil creature.

The most interesting thing about Hart to Grendel is individuals. He learns about what happens to them when they become upset or when they decide to work together. He's impressed by their organization. Grendel is impressed by how Hrothgar "shown them the strength of his group" (37). It is symbolic of how complicated the people can be. What Hart means to them is home. Each of them gather their and promote their lives. It symbolizes their durability to survive every one of the things that eventually them. Hart is a location where they can socialize because it was a place where where "they might listen to one another. "(32) It also symbolizes unity because they can complete a lot of things when they work together.

I don't think that Grendel fully understands the physical conditions of the individuals world because, while he would like to be always a part of these, he doesn't know what it's like to participate a community, and just getting information through observation isn't enough if it is about culture and tradition. The most stunning thing that Grendel locates about the way humans live is their ability to make habits and create faades over the real world to make it look the way they need it to.

Grendel feels that the physical world is not actually there. He seems that Grendel is the only real living thing that is truly there and living. He feels as though he is really the only one that concerns at all. The rest is just space for him to go around in because he "create[s] the whole world, blink by blink" (22). He feels that the entire world is merely one big machine without thoughts of its. Only he, Grendel, is truly alive and clever.

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