Humans equal to Grendel? Or perhaps more monstrous? Grendel kills men and children in Beowulf without hesitation. He is an evil beast with no intention to make peace; yet in John Gardner’s Grendel, Grendel has choices, hesitation and experiences deep emotions. Grendel observes and analyzes humans and animals, and tries to understand why people are the way they are, but he also has mentors: the shaper, explaining the humans point of view, and the dragon, urging Grendel to believe that people are nothing. Gardner’s Grendel does have a sense of thought and emotions, and is able to comprehend humans at the most, therefore leading him to be more man than beast, also making him a murderer which then makes him a monster. However, humans are also the monsters because they kill each other, make war without reason, and are just as cruel as Grendel.
Unferth, who has great jealousy of Beowulf, is a great example of how man can commit such evil acts. Unferth is the top man of Hrothgar’s hall and is glorified and does not hide his sense of pride. He believes he is a hero, for a hero is not afraid to die. He states to Grendel, "A hero is not afraid to face cruel truth" (Gardner 88). In chapter six, Grendel almost kills Unferth, but lets him live. Grendel hated how Unferth talked so highly of himself, listening to his talk about being a hero made him sick. So, Grendel wanted to prove Unferth and others wrong; he is no hero, but a coward. Unferth states to Grendel ,, “You talk of heroism as noble language, dignity. It’s more than that, as my coming here has proved. No man above us will ever know whether Unferth died here or fled to the hills like a coward. Only you and I and God will know the truth. That’s inner heroism” (Gardner 88). Unferth believes to be a hero, but Grendel sees right through him. Unferth’s cowardliness shows up again in chapter eleven when Beowulf (the stranger) is being ridiculed by Unferth, suggesting that Beowulf's swim with Brecca was foolish and...
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