Character Analysis: Grendel

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Grendel as a Ridiculous Character
Probably one of the greatest questions of the 19th century comes directly from John Gardner’s novel Grendel. Given a world with no inherent meaning, how should one live his or her life? Grendel lives in a world that he is not supposed to be in, acting out on emotion. Grendel represents the animalistic traits of humans. His actions are primitive and based around society’s acceptance throughout the novel. Grendel portrays a ridiculous character that is convinced we are born a certain way, and no matter how badly it will never change.

Being that Grendel is a ridiculous child-like character there are two points of view in this analysis. The analysis of Grendel, and his actions against humanity that is ridiculous in nature. As well as John Gardner’s assimilation of the late 1960’s to early 1970’s with Grendel representing the minority that was fighting for acceptance during the Civil Rights Movement.

Viewing Grendel in his youth, it is repeated throughout the novel that Grendel is alone- lost in the world. This feeling of alienation started at a young age with his mother who doesn’t respond to Grendel ever, but only embraces him into her mass as a motherly instinct. Grendel is born into a world that pays him no attention. Realizing this world is what he makes of it, what pushes him is time spent alone exploring the world around him. When Grendel reaches the lake of fire snakes, he is hesitant about the voyage across for fear of what is on the other side. This is the step that launches Grendel into adulthood. When Grendel crosses he begins a war with the Thanes that continues on for twelve years. The first example of Grendel being a ridiculous character begins with the realization during the twelve years, that the humans are defenseless when it comes to protecting their mead halls. During the spring when Grendel crosses over he laughs manically as he eats the humans, and causes chaos. Grendel spends a great deal of time watching...
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