Western Lit Honors
2 March 2013
In novels with the same characters, the different authors portray the characters in two different ways. The characters may seem completely different, like in Grendel and Beowulf. John Gardner portrays Grendel in his novel differently than the author of Beowulf, so different that the character seems like two completely different characters.
In John Gardner’s Grendel, he paints a significantly different picture of his main character than in the Epic Poem Beowulf. In Beowulf, Grendel seems like a blood thirsty, man eating monster. Grendel is driven by his animal instincts, and does not contain human qualities. The writer describes his actions in this quote. "The monster stepped on the bright paved floor, crazed with evil anger; from his strange eyes an ugly light shone out like fire" (Beowulf line 725). This makes the readers believe that Grendel is evil and monstrous. John Gardner portrays Grendel almost humanlike. He walks around with human like qualities, and you can hear what he is thinking. You don’t see him as a blood hungry beast like you do in Beowulf. In the novel – Grendel comes across a deer. He says, "Blind Prejudice" (Gardner 7) "Ah, the unfairness of everything, I say and shake my head. It is a matter of fact that I Brown 2
have never killed a deer in all my life, and never will." (Gardner 8). This portrays Grendel as humanlike, unlike in Beowulf.
Another difference between Grendel in Grendel and Grendel in Beowulf is that you can relate to Grendel more in John Gardner’s novel. He is more human, and you know what he is thinking. Everyone in Beowulf fears Grendel, except for Beowulf himself. By knowing how he thinks and what happened to him, Grendel seems like a nice guy. Even though as readers, we know everyone views him as a monster. In Grendel, Grendel is portrayed as a confused creature who is walking around the world looking for answers. He always used to ask his...