Point of View in Grendel and Beowulf
Contrasting points of view in Grendel and Beowulf significantly alter the reader’s perception of religion, good and evil, and the character Grendel. John Gardner’s book, Grendel, is written in first person. The book translated by Burton Raffel, Beowulf, is written in third person.
Good and evil is one of the main conflicts in the poem Beowulf. How is Grendel affected by the concepts of good and evil? Grendel is an alienated individual who just wants to be a part of something. His desire to fit in causes him to do evil things. Grendel is fascinated by the Shaper’s poetry. He often returns to the mead hall to listen to it. One night while he is listening, he hears the story of Cain and Abel, including the Danes explanation of Grendel. His reaction to this leads to one of his most dramatic emotional reactions: “I believed him. Such was the power of the Shaper’s harp! Stood wriggling my face, letting tears down my nose, grinding my fists into my elbow the corpse of the proof that both of us ere cursed, or neither, that the brothers had never lived, nor the god who judged them. ‘Waaa!’ I bawled. ‘Oh what a conversion’”(Gardner 51)! Grendel then cries for mercy from the Danes. He wants their forgiveness as well as unification with them, which represents the good in him. The Danes reject him by confusing his outburst of sorrow as an attack. After visiting with a dragon who tells Grendel a fictional version of the Shaper’s tale, Grendel continues to believe the Shaper’s story. He searches for the goodness in human beings, which was mentioned in the story. He eats people only because it provides a place for him in society, even if it is a negative position (The Two Faces of Grendel, 2). Good and evil is one of the main conflicts in the poem Beowulf, and ultimately both wipe each other out. Good, is portrayed by God, and evil seems to...
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