Comparing Beowulf And Grendel

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Topics: Beowulf
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
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“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 curiosity and love for the Shaper’s music led to many attacks by the Danes, for they didn’t understand why Grendel was overlooking them almost every day. Grendel’s cry of the word “friend” simply means he meant no harm, but it frustrated him since they couldn’t understand him. “Malignant by nature, he never showed remorse.” (Beowulf, 137) Beowulf and his crew believed that Grendel was born a monster and based his personality off of his appearance and actions. Although Grendel was a bane of the Danes, none of them went out of their way to find positives in Grendel’s existence. “I discovered that the dragon had put a charm on me: no weapon could cut me. I could walk up to the mead hall whenever I pleased and they were powerless. My heart became darker because of that.” (Grendel, pp. 75-76) Grendel is depressed that the minstrel would sing songs of hate about him; …show more content…
“He screamed and thrashed, trying to get at me and at the same time trying to see if the others were watching. He was crying, only a boy, famous hero or not: a poor miserable virgin.” (Grendel, p.85) Unferth’s wimpy reaction to Grendel’s apple throwing made Grendel see right through Unferth’s fame, and reveal his real personality. Unferth is perceived as this majestic hero but he has a hard time coping with petty situations. “When he lent that blade to the better swordsman, Unferth, the strong-built son of Ecglaf, could hardly have remembered the ranting speech he had made in his cups.” (Beowulf, 1465-1468) Unferth envied Beowulf for his strength and might but when handing over Hrunting, he knew who was right to fight on Grendel. This action shows Unferth’s ability to overcome his jealousy by being loyal to the people; he knew he couldn’t match his abilities with Beowulf’s. “You killed your own kith and kin, so for all your cleverness and quick tongue, you will suffer damnation in the depths of hell.” (Beowulf, 587-588) Beowulf’s knowledge of Unferth’s large ego made Beowulf believe that Unferth didn’t take battling Grendel seriously. Unferth thought that his fame and so called “strength” was enough to kill Grendel but Beowulf thought it took more than that. “‘I’ll kill myself,’ he whispered. He shook violently now.”

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