Grendel Unferth Essay

Topics: Beowulf, English heroic legends, Grendel's mother Pages: 3 (1058 words) Published: May 20, 2012
Amanda Davidson

Two Tales of the Aforementioned
They say good first impressions are important, but these characters find themselves in an unfortunate plight. In the original and famous poem, Beowulf, GRENDEL is the evil, most abominable creature on the planet. His grim and naturally monstrous appearance haunts the Danes and people of the mead hall. His heart is heavy and dark, according to Beowulf, but in John Gardner’s Grendel, he explains in much detail how he truly feels about himself and his actions. Being raised alone (occasionally by his mother), Grendel’s inability to realize things show when trying to be gentle. Unaware of his strength, accidental murders have happened. He is a misunderstood little boy trapped in a large body. Then there’s Unferth, perceived as childish yet strong and loyal. In both Grendel and Beowulf, Unferth was a coward, but helped others. In Gardner’s novel, Unferth’s encounter with Grendel was full of wisdom words and a silly incident that lead to Unferth’s yearning of suicide. Meanwhile in the poem, Unferth’s cowardly behavior and large ego show when he tries to say he can defeat Grendel. He believed his fame could give him strength, leading Beowulf to call him “clever with a quick tongue”. All in all, comparing the characters in both texts is a game of perspective, for it can be interpreted in almost any way.

While Beowulf portrays Grendel as naturally monstrous and destructive, in Grendel, he comes across as a confused being who’s unaware of his strength. “Grendel was the name of this grim demon haunting the marches, marauding round the heath and desolate fens.” (Beowulf, 102-105) Grendel’s acts and behavior were simple, childlike, yet his size and fierce appearance haunted the Danes. What was going on in Grendel’s head was not that of a grim demon but of a harmless soul trapped in a large and intimidating body. “I sank to my knees, crying, ‘Friend! Friend!’ They hacked at me yipping like dogs.” (Grendel, p.52) Grendel’s...
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