Grendel Essay

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Duality of Good and Evil
Robert Louis Stevenson, a famous Scottish writer, once said, “All human beings are commingled out of good and evil.” Not one person is completely good or evil; everyone possesses both characteristics. In the literary pieces of John Gardner’s, “Grendel,” unknown author of, “Beowulf,” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” the characters are portrayed as having both qualities of good and evil, proving there to be a duality of decency/immorality, righteousness/depravity, and virtue/evil.

The character, Grendel, in Gardner’s, “Grendel,” is a prime example of this inseparable bond between right and wrong. Grendel is originally wrongfully viewed as solely a complete and utter monster. He had spent twelve years killing many innocent men, but he was just incredibly misunderstood. Grendel explains in detail one of the many people that he killed, “Here I killed the old woman with the irongray hair. She tasted of urine and spleen, which made me spit” (Gardner). Grendel had such an extreme hatred for humans and would become excited when about to murder a man. The narrator shows Grendel to be of monstrous quality, “So mankind’s enemy, continued his crimes, killing as often as he could, coming alone, bloodthirsty and horrible (Beowulf, line 79-81). Grendel has no mercy and kills any man that comes his way.

He seems to have no virtue in him whatsoever. But as the character develops, the reader understands that this is not the only trait Grendel possesses.
Although Grendel shows monstrosity through his vile actions, he also can show goodness through behavior rarely shown. Because Grendel was much different than the Thanes, he was outcast as a monster. But the men were just as monstrous as him. Grendel watches as he sees the men fighting, “I remembered the ragged men fighting each other till the snow was red slush, whining in the winter, the shriek of people and animals burning, the whip slashed oxen in the mire, the...
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