Grendel (Gardner) Works Notes

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Grendel Major Works Notes
Title
Grendel by John Gardner (American)
Original date of publication: 1971 by Knopf, Inc.
Gardner writes this from Grendel’s point of view in Beowulf, an Old English heroic poem, where Grendel is the antagonist Setting:
Time: 4th ~5th century A.D.
Place: Denmark
Social environment:
1. Grendel is lonely
* Nobody understands him except the dragon
* He can’t understand his own mother.
* The only ones he can understand other than the dragon are human beings, who ostracize him for being a monster. This loneliness causes him to feel a jealousy for those with companionship that fuels his contemptuous attitude toward the humans. 2. Danes: system of strong king supported by brave/loyal warriors * ↳ code of honor

* Ex. Unferth and other Danes try killing Beowulf, but Danes die trying, while Unferth shamed because he’s so pitied by the “monster” he’s let free * Beowulf defends own honor against Unferth

* Warriors come up with belief that they’re fated to die→ follow fate by going into battle * If they’re supposed to die, they’ll die, and if they’re not supposed to die, they won’t. There’s no way to prevent death, so they might as well face it.

Atmosphere:
There is a satirical attitude towards humans and their propensity for violence. The narrator often mocks humans and their sense of honor, which he believes doesn’t really exist. The narrator’s writing style also gets more mature throughout the story, which shows Grendel’s maturation. Significance:

* Gives a place representative of both Grendel (& his mother) and the Danes * Grendel & his mother: under his mere
* Dark, mysterious
* The Danes: Hart
* Name comes from “heorot”
* a male deer, especially a male red deer over five years old ~ American heritage * Is always the place where Grendel confronts/observes the Danes * Danes’ thoughts/ beliefs in criminalizing Grendel justified with their religion from their time period * Grendel’s loneliness is used to give Grendel a reason for being the fearsome monster he is . Structure

Organizational method:
* Gardner organizes his novel chronologically, though in chapters one through eight he has flashbacks to various meaningful parts of his life. * Grendel’s maturation manifests itself in his writing. * He uses mock-epic epithets and swear words from the beginning, but after * ↳encounters with Unferth in chapter 7begins using different formatting, italics and parentheses. Sometimes he writes the story as a play (ex. memories of Wealthow, watching Hrothulf plot overthrow) Point of view:

The novel conveys Grendel’s inner thoughts and feelings from a first person point of view. This allows the reader to sympathize with Grendel, instead of portraying Grendel as a monster with no qualms about killing humans (like the author of Beowulf did). Plot

Chapter 1
*
* Angry @ goat for being stubborn & not moving & how spring=mating season * 12th year of war vs. humans
* admits self= as noble as animals (not very noble)
* walks through lands & reminisce abt times past
* Swims up to surface
* Stands @ edge of cliffs
* goes to Hrothgar’s meadhall
* thinks of mom: unable/unwilling ans Grendel’s ?s
* never speaks (makes noises, yeah…)
* arrives @ Hart
* raids Hart eats many humans feels sick
* sees humans mourning dead angry abt how he thinks Danes act as though they’ve “won” * Chapter 2
* Flashback: childhood bull/human experience
* Caves: only mom interacts w/ him, creatures watch him * Dives into firesnake poolcomes upsees new world
* ventures further after time passes
* realizes only mom really looks @ him (sees him & her as 1 being) * one day, chases after calf
* trapped in tree
* Wants momimagines seeing her
* bull...
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