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Beowulf - Grendel: the Monster

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Beowulf - Grendel: the Monster

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  • October 1999
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Grendel, the first antagonist in the epic poem Beowulf, is most definitely a monster. To even compare him to a "rambunctious youth" is irrational. The narrator emphasizes his monster-like qualities and even refers to him as a monster. The diction deliberately portrays him as evil, as do Grendel's own actions.

The beginning line of the passage is , "A powerful monster …". In line 16-17, the narrator goes further by saying, "… the monster stirred, that demon, that fiend, Grendel, …". The narrator plainly states that he is a monster in several other lines, also. But, even before all of these occurrences of the word, the introduction summarizes the first passage saying that a fierce and powerful monster invades the mead hall. Even by this, the reader has a preconception that Grendel is a monster.

Grendel is always in contrast to "the Almighty" and Christianity. It is explained that he is descendant of the biblical figure Cain. Anyone familiar with the bible knows that Cain murdered his brother, Abel, and is considered an embodiment of evil by most Christian religions. So Grendel was born banished by God and lead his life accordingly. He is described as being the shadow of death and having hell-forged hands. The narrator would not have to continue to convince anyone that Grendel is a monster.

Grendel behaves like a monster and has many qualities pertaining to being one. He lusts for evil (lines 52-53) and relished his savage war (line 67). He was not on a conquest of love, fortune, or fame; he slaughtered men for sport, certainly not the pass time of the average rambunctious youth. His victims were all unknowing and asleep. He only came with darkness, also associated with evil. He lurked, stirred, and haunted. All these words have evil connotations, as do all words describing the monster and his actions. After the night's rampage, he returned to his "lair", suggesting that Grendel is a wild animal. Since the word is usually associated...