A Comparison of the Grendel of Beowulf and Gardner's Grendel

A Comparison of the Grendel of Beowulf and Gardner's Grendel

Length: 951 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

A Comparison of the Grendel of Beowulf and Gardner's Grendel


      The novel Grendel by John Gardner portrays a significantly

different picture of Grendel than the epic poem Beowulf paints. Grendel is

a non-human being who posses human qualities. In either story it is not

specified what type of being Grendel is, nor does it tell of what exactly

Grendel looks like. The only idea the reader has of the sight of Grendel is

the small hints either author gives. We know he stands on two feet as

humans do, we know he is covered in hair, and we know he is monstrous.


      Although there are many significant differences between the two

stories there is one idea that stands out the most when I read Grendel.

That idea is in the poem Beowulf, Grendel is portrayed a large animalistic

beast. This gives the reader the feeling that Grendel is solely driven by

his animal instincts and does not posses the same thought processes as

humans do. For example the line "the monster stepped on the bright paved

floor, crazed with evil anger; from his strange eyes an ugly light shone

out like fire" (Beowulf line 725), proves this point.


        In the novel however this point lacks development. Rather Grendel

is portrayed as a confused creature passing through life looking for

answers. Surprisingly Grendel walks the forest in harmony with the animals.

He does not act like the blood hungry beast he is seen as in Beowulf.   In

the novel -- Grendel is walking the forest and comes across a doe. He

notices that the doe is staring in fright and suddenly runs away. One would

assume from the ideas hinted in Beowulf that Grendel would have attacked

the deer. However Grendel appears upset with the deer's actions. He says; "

Blind Prejudice" (Gardner 7) "Ah, the unfairness of everything, I say and

shake my head. It is a matter of fact that I have never killed a deer in

all my life, and never will." (Gardner 8)


      Grendel is a confused creature. Since he walks alone he has more

than enough time to think about his life. He always used to ask his mother "

why are we here" (Gardner 11) the only way he realized the truth was from

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"A Comparison of the Grendel of Beowulf and Gardner's Grendel." 123HelpMe.com. 19 Jan 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

A Comparison of Grendel in Beowulf and John Gardner's Grendel Essay

- In both works, Beowulf and Grendel, Grendel himself is generally given the same connotations. He is given kennings, called names, referred to as the evil spawn of Cain, and even viewed as a monster; but why. Why in both books is he a wicked, horrible, person who is harshly excluded from everyone. After stumbling upon John Gardner's book, it was halfway expected that some excuse would be made for Grendel; that he wasn't really the inexorable monster the thanes in Beowulf portrayed him as. But all it really did was make him worse....   [tags: John Gardner Beowulf]

Research Papers
740 words (2.1 pages)

A Comparison of Nihilistic and Christian Archetypes in Beowulf and John Gardner's Grendel

- Grendel, Beowulf and the Relationship Between Nihilistic and Christian Archetypes The Wisdom god, Woden, went out to the king of trolls…and demanded to know how order might triumph over chaos. “Give me your left eye,” said the king of trolls, “and I’ll tell you.” Without hesitation, Woden gave up his left eye. “Now tell me.” The troll said, “The secret is, Watch with both eyes!” Woden’s left eye was the last sure hope of gods and men in their kingdom of light surrounded by darkness. All we have left is Thor’s hammer, which represents not brute force but art, or, counting both hammerheads, art and criticism… The philosophies expressed in the Beowulf epic complement the exploration of exi...   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Research Papers
2157 words (6.2 pages)

Analysis Of Grendel, By John Gardner Essay

- When a child is asked what a hero is, they often respond with saying that they’re a person who has powers and beats up bad guys. But then when asked what a ‘bad guy’ is, they say that it would be someone who hurts people. But then heroes and villains are the same. So the hero is described by perspective. A villain might commit horrible acts yet still think that he is a hero who is helping a city. In John Gardner, author of Grendel, plays with the gray area between a hero and a villain throughout his novel, provoking ideas about what the essence of a hero is....   [tags: Meaning of life, Beowulf, Nihilism, Hroðgar]

Research Papers
1715 words (4.9 pages)

A Comparison of Beowulf and Grendel Essay

- The story of Beowulf is a heroic epic chronicling the illustrious deeds of the great Geatish warrior Beowulf, who voyages across the seas to rid the Danes of an evil monster, Grendel, who has been wreaking havoc and terrorizing the kingdom. Beowulf is glorified for his heroic deeds of ridding the land of a fiendish monster and halting its scourge of evil while the monster is portrayed as a repugnant creature who deserves to die because of its evil actions. In the epic poem, Beowulf the authors portrays Grendel as a cold-hearted beast who thrives on the pain of others....   [tags: Compare, Contrast, Comparative]

Research Papers
947 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Fate in Beowulf, Grendel, and Macbeth

- Fate in Beowulf, Grendel, and Macbeth         Fate plays a significant role in the Old English epic poem Beowulf and William Shakespeare's play Macbeth.. The major events of the poem, such as the three killings by Beowulf and his own death, are said to have been predestined. In Macbeth, fate is so significant that it is personified by the Weird Sisters, who drive the action of the play. But if predestination exists, then there must be an agent that determines destiny. In Beowulf, God plays this role, and fate is generally accepted as God's will....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Research Papers
2183 words (6.2 pages)

Comparing the Act of Creation in Grendel and Frankenstein Essay

- The Act of Creation in Grendel and Frankenstein    Man has always been driven to create. We constantly shape the world around us by inventing stories of heroes and monsters, by crafting complex but passionate ideals about good and evil. Some relish in the power that this manipulation of reality wields; others are more innocent in that they are simply yielding to a universal longing for something in which to believe.   In both John Gardner's Grendel and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, creation is a central theme....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Research Papers
1212 words (3.5 pages)

Essay Comparing the Moral Superiority of Grendel and Frankenstein

- Comparing the Moral Superiority of Grendel and Frankenstein Seeking friends, they found enemies; seeking hope, they found hate. Social outcasts simply want to live as the rest of us live. Often, in our prejudice of their kind, we banish them from our elite society. Regardless of our personal perspective, society judges who is acceptable and who is not. Some of the greatest people of all time have been socially unacceptable. Van Gogh found comfort only in his art, and with a woman who consistently denied his passion....   [tags: Comparison Compare Contrast Essays]

Free Essays
2630 words (7.5 pages)

Comparing Innocence in Grendel, Neil Young and Portrait of a Lady Essay example

- Fall from Innocence in Grendel, Neil Young and Portrait of a Lady        According to the Bible, God created man pure and innocent, oblivious to good and evil. The serpent of evil lured them to the tree of knowledge, however, and its fruit proved too much of a temptation. With a bite, their "eyes... were opened," and the course of their lives, and the lives of mankind, were changed (Gen. 6-7, 22). Whether or not one accepts the Christian concept of creation, countless works of art are patterned on this account of the "fall from innocence." The novel Grendel by John Gardner shows us a side of the "beast" the epic Beowulf never considered - the child-like innocence before the brutality....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Research Papers
1409 words (4 pages)

Comparing Beowulf And John Gardner 's Grendel Essay

- ... The need to prove himself of worth resurfaced after the fight with the dragon. As he died, he told Wiglaf to bring him the treasures that he had won, satisfied that his last action was to capture it for his Kingdom’s future. This fame is of utmost importance to Beowulf, even while being poisoned to his inevitable death. His wishes are realized as he is hailed after as “the man most gracious and fair-minded” (Beowulf, 3181). This inhibition of wanting to be seen as helpful to his society persists to flicker through his journey as he continues to do good deeds in order to have more fame....   [tags: Beowulf, KILL, Hroðgar, Murder]

Research Papers
1072 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on Satire in John Gardner's Grendel

- Satire in Grendel "The state is an organization of violence, a monopoly in what it is pleased to call legitimate violence (Gardner, 119)." This excerpt from John Gardner's Grendel shows one of the many issues he deals with in his satire of man, and that is the issue of the use of violence in society. Gardner shows this throughout the book, but most prominently in chapter eight, in which we learn of the arrival of Hrothulf, Hrothgar's nephew, at Herot. Hrothgar recognizes the evil in Hrothgar's kingdom....   [tags: John Gardner Grendel ]

Research Papers
613 words (1.8 pages)

Related Searches

the words of  the old dragon. "You are mankind, or man's condition"

(Gardner 73) Unfortunately the Dragon did not make a whole lot of sense.

The dragon's final advice was "find the gold and sit on it" (Gardner 78).

Unfortunately this advice left Grendel more confused than ever.


        The only part in the poem Beowulf  that Grendel appears in is the

attack on the meadhall where Beowulf puts an end to Grendel. In the poem it

says " Then his heart laughed; evil monster,  he thought he would take the

life from each body, eat them all before the day came; the gluttonous

thought of a full bellied feast was hot upon him." (Beowulf line 730) This

portrays Grendel as an evil, cruel and -- unsympathetic being, but this is

not entirely true. Grendel has been attacking the meadhall for eleven years.

This fact alone points out the utter stupidity of man kind. Always the same

attack Grendel follows just for fun.  He does not really like the taste of

humans, it makes him ill. The people in the meadhall always do the same

thing, which is make the meadhall dark so as to blind Grendel. The thought

never occurs to the people that Grendel can see easily in the dark, which

is why he always manages to kill and eat someone.


      In my opinion Grendel is far more superior than man is. The novel

displays the idea well. He knows that the people fear him because he is

different and he uses that to his advantage.  He also realizes that human

waste all their time thinking about theories to why life is. As the dragon

says "They would map out roads through Hell with their crackpot theories!"

he also tells Grendel  "You improve them my boy ! Can't you see that

yourself? You stimulate them! You make them think and scheme." (Gardener

72) This proves that Grendel is a more superior than humankind is.


        Finally Grendel meets Beowulf in the meadhall. He has never met a

human quite as strong and brave as this one before and he is, in fact,

surprised. Although the poem portrays Grendel as being scared and weak, I

believe surprised -- explains it better. After escaping the meadhall

Grendel wanders home bleeding. Eventually he ends up in a clearing

surrounded by animals who no longer fear him. Grendel is not upset with

this sudden turn of events rather he is happy. An existence that was

sorrowsome and confusing will no longer be lived by the poor Grendel. We

get this idea when he says "Is this joy I feel." (Gardner 173) With his

dying breath he notices the animals staring at him and says "Poor Grendel's

had an accident, So may you all." (Gardner 174) This dramatic death scene

shows us that Grendel is happy to leave this world.


      This scene in the novel is very different from that of the poem. "

There the lake water boiled with blood, terrible surgings, a murky swirl of

hot dark ooze, deep sword-blood; death fated he hid joyless in the fen, his

dark stronghold, till he gave up life, his heathen soul; there Hell

received him" (Beowulf line 847) In my opinion this shows us (the readers)

how Grendel is thought of in the poem. Which is a cold hearted beast, and

that could be no further from the truth.
Return to 123HelpMe.com