This essay describes how in the Novel Beowulf, the character is portrayed as an evil monster. However, in the novel Grendel, Grendel is portrayed as a misunderstood kind soul.

Essay by K8oM8High School, 11th gradeA, March 2003

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Empathizing With a Monster

In the novels Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, and Grendel by John Gardner, there is a character that is vividly portrayed. This character is the monster Grendel, a non-human being portrayed in two separate ways. The Anglo-Saxon's view Grendel as evil; there's no arguing that point. The Anglo-Saxon view is highly original and different because "In Anglo-Saxon society one of the principal contaminants was the warrior code, which was so deeply rooted that the church had to condone the blood feud down to the end of the Anglo-Saxon period" (Ogilvy 33). However, when the reader sees the story portrayed through Grendel's perspective he starts to empathize with Grendel rather than fear him.

In the beginning of Beowulf Grendel is presented as "a fiend out of hell . . . haunting the marshes, marauding round the heath and the desolate fens. . ." (Heaney 9). Grendel is an evil monster from hell.

However, in the novel Grendel the reader sees Grendel trying to befriend the humans and even talk to them "'Mercy! Peace!' The harper broke off, the people screamed" (Gardner 52). Grendel tries to be nice to them, but because of his appearance and size the people automatically fear him and try to hurt him. They are taught to be fearful of all things associated with hell, so just because Grendel is of Cain's clan they shun him and automatically label him as evil. This in turn makes him upset and lash out against others in his desperation.

One of the most over looked aspects of Grendel in Beowulf is that he has feelings, "It harrowed him to hear the din of the loud banquet every day in the hall . . ." (Heaney 9). Grendel was distressed and upset by the music of the...