The Monstrous and Humanistic Qualities of Grendel

Essay by brittmichelle23College, UndergraduateB+, November 2014

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Brittany Douglas Stamps

Survey English Literature 319-02

Dr. Neaseman

November 5, 2014

The Monstrous and Humanistic Qualities of Grendel

In John Gardner's Grendel, the viewpoints from the antagonistic poem Beowulf shifts as Gardner humanizes Grendel's character by stressing the parallels between Grendel's animalistic nature and human life. Gardner's critical reflection of human feelings, development, and flaws placed within Grendel expounds as his seemingly antagonistic, monstrous, and devious character fades as it was portrayed through Beowulf. Grendel analyzed the characteristics and the fundamental laws of being human and examines the attributes that the monster Grendel possesses from those represented in Beowulf. Grendel leaves many questions of who is a truly monstrous, human or Grendel himself. In Beowulf and in John Gardner's Grendel, portrayals of murderous anxiety, loneliness, and fear differ to show Grendel as monster and human in order to view ourselves in the monster and the monstrous in ourselves.

Through Gardner, Grendel causes the reader to identify with the human qualities of that beast Grendel possessed. Grendel expresses so much more human emotions and feelings that induce sympathy from the audience rather than the opposite feelings conveyed from Beowulf's portrayal of Grendel's murderous anxiety. In the beginning of Beowulf Grendel was already painted as this demon before the audience could identify his character. Attacking Heorot in the opening scene of Beowulf, certain lines illustrates Grendel's character in detail which could of lead to Grendel's monstrous anxiety. "So times were pleasant for the people there until finally one, a fiend out of hell, began to work his evil in the world, Grendel was the name of this grim demon haunting the marches, marauding round the heath and the desolate fens; he had dwelt for a time in misery among the banished monsters, Cain's clan, whom the...