Grendel in Beowulf

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Jeffrey Ding
Period 5

Grendel is the main antagonist in the story so far. In the most basic terms, Grendel is a giant, cannibal creature dwelling in the outer darkness. He is first described as a demon that bears the curse of the seed of Cain, this means he’s a member of a resented and exiled lineage that includes marauding monsters and menacing trolls. Like Cain, Grendel is an outcast and haunts the swamplands on the boundary of human society. Although the poem doesn’t have an explicit description of Grendel, his supernatural actions like killing thirty spearmen and carrying them all back to his den and waging war against every Danish man of might show that he is strong and almost invincible. Although most of the poem’s description centers on the Christian point of view on Grendel, the commentary shows that Grendel has roots in Scandinavian folklore and is a mix of the devilish figure with the draugr figure which is a more animated and vengeful version of a zombie. Draugr’s usually have a mother who is even stronger and more evil than he and this is true of Grendel as well. Another crucial attribute of Grendel’s is his stealth which allows him to prowl and sneak up on unsuspecting warriors as he hunts at night. One last, interesting part of Grendel’s description is that he is ale to wield magic and cast spells because during the battle he protects himself from iron blades.

Grendel’s nature and his motivations for his evil deeds are crucial to understanding the character as a whole. I think there are two forces at work in causing Grendel to commit these acts of violence. The first is loneliness and resentment for being exiled to the swamplands. This is further supported because Grendel is a member of Cain’s lineage who God himself had exiled and put a curse on. More specifically, Grendel feels pain and jealousy because he hears the sounds of happiness and sweet music everyday from Hrothgar’s meadhall. He acts on this jealousy and...
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