Existentialism, and how it is used in "The Stranger" by Beowulf and Grindel.

Essay by MegRobHigh School, 12th gradeA+, March 2003

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Existentialism means many different things to different people. From what I've learned about existentialism, it all boils down to the choices we make in life. And the question " do our choices matter in the end?"

According to Meursault, the main character in The Stranger, nothing in life is to be gained or lost. He always says, "it's all the same to me." This shows existentialism, because it is obvious that he really doesn't think any of the choices that he makes are really going to matter at the end of his life.

The main existential part in The Stranger is when Mersault does not cry at his mother's funeral. That determines his death in the end of the novel. Another existential part is when Marie asks Mersault to marry her, he said that it really didn't matter either way if they got married or if they didn't. In chapter 5 I noticed another very important existential part.

It is when Mersault says "But i was sure about me, about everything, surer than he could ever be, sure of my life and sure of my death i had waiting for me." That passage proves Mersult to be a true existentialist. When he is laying in his jail cell he claims, " i had lived my life one way and i could just as well have lived it another."

Right before Mersult is executed he accepts that he was indifference to the world and it to him.

The novel Grindel is also considered to be an existential novel. I found Grindel himself to be quite the existentialist. His basic emotions throughout the novel show existentialism to the extreme.

The first sign of existentialism is when Grindel is observing man. He feels isolated, like he is all alone in the world. Grindel tells a story from his childhood. He gets stuck on a mountain, he wept and sobbed thinking of how no one would ever miss him. One of the main points of existentialism is when Grindel declaires that he understood that the world was nothing. He also declairs the world to be a pointless accident. He states, " i exist, nothing else."

The Shaper almost warped Grindel's phillosophy on life. One part of Grindel wanted to stay just the way he was, sickened by everything that surrounded him, yet another part of him wanted to follow the Shapers path that had been lain before him. That is when he realizes just how alone and lost he really is. Later, he classifies the shaper as an illusion and realizes that it was absolutely ridiculous of him to even think about changing his phillosophys on life. It appears that Grindel is a nehiloist and believes in nothing, especially not God. "What god? Where? Lifeforce you mean?"

As in The Stranger, Grindel believes nothing was changed, but everything was changed. Grindel states numerous times throughout the novel that " balance is everything." He refers to himself as "grindel the truth teacher, phantasm tester."

In an exestential point of view suicide is an escape from the nothingness that the exestentialist feels. It is like cheating. In Chapter 7, Grindel resolved, absolutely and finally to kill himself, then for some rason he changed his mind. He must have realized that it would be cheating if he did that.

One thing that relates Grindel to The Stranger is that they both consider Priests to have everything planned out and done for them. There is no escape from death in an exestentialists mind, "Death shakes his body the way high wind shakes trees." Grindel finally sees that sooner or later all of us must pass. "So it goes."

In the epic Beowulf the exestential part is that Beowulf has only one goal and that goal is to be the best, strongest warior and to defeat the eaters of the dead. Beowulf dosen't feel that anything else matters as long as he accomplishes this goal. That is why he feels that he has succeeded even though he dies.