top-rated free essay

Differences Between the Epic "Beowulf" and John Gardner's Novel "Grendel"

By blackleather Dec 12, 2005 699 Words
When the same scenes are described in different ways, many things inevitably change. As each writer has his/her own idea about how the scenes should look on paper, the results may differ significantly. In this essay two works are compared – the epic Beowulf and John Gardner's novel Grendel. The differences between them arise because the authors concentrate on different details. As a result of the lack/presence of suspense, the choice of the point of view, and the choice between ‘telling' and ‘showing', these two works differ. In the original Beowulf, the hero's fight with Grendel lacks suspense. Throughout the whole scene the author makes sure the readers know how the battle will end – with Grendel's doom. In the following examples, he repeats the same message in different ways: •"Close to the building crept the slayer,

Doomed to misery."
•"But Wyrd had otherwise willed his doom;
Never again should he get a victim
After that night."
•"But a woeful end awaited the wretch,
That very day he was doomed to depart,
And fare afar to the fiends' domain."
In the newer version, however, the outcome of the battle is revealed only at the last possible moment. This happens because in Grendel the story is told by Grendel himself. He is very strong; moreover, he had never met his match before. As a result, he is so confident of his success that he admits to himself that he will die only after he is mortally wounded by Beowulf. o"The room goes suddenly white, as if struck by lightning… He has torn off my arm at the shoulder… I really will die!" The change in the point of view is rather important when comparing these two works. Beowulf is told in the third person narrative. Here, the author concentrates on the actions of the characters and on the battle itself. This might not be very appealing to some readers. Gardner's version, written from the point of view of Grendel, the monster, should be more interesting to read. The writer gets inside the head of Grendel and shows how everything unfolds from his perspective. Because of that, the readers have the chance to experience the thoughts and feelings of somebody who is considered a ‘bad guy'. They can observe Grendel's unique reactions to everything that happens ("Mistake! It's a trick!" – when Grendel realizes that he has been deceived; "I discover I no longer feel pain… My heart booms terror." – when he is dying; "You're crazy… If you think I created that wall that cracked my head, you're a fucking lunatic." – this is one of his answers during the fight with Beowulf).

Another point that makes these two works different is the authors' choices between ‘showing' Grendel and ‘telling' the readers what to think of him. In Beowulf the author ‘tells' the readers what Grendel is like by using the following words: horrible slayer, the hideous fiend, monster, ravager, man-devourer, slaughterous guest. The character is shown as the common villain, who kills for his own entertainment, a monster that must be eliminated. In Grendel, on the other hand, Gardner does not comment on the fact that this character is a 'bad guy'; he ‘shows' Grendel by presenting his thoughts and emotions and lets the readers decide for themselves what Grendel is like. I, for example, perceive him as a mentally sick monster. Here are some of the phrases that helped me to form such opinion: "…with a laugh that I wouldn't much care to wake up to myself", "…half-crazy with joy", "For pure, mad prank, I snatch a cloth from the nearest table and tie it around my neck to make a napkin." Even though both works are full of differences, they have one thing in common – the ending. o"But Grendel escaped with his gaping wound,

O'er the dreary moor his dark den sought,
Crawled to his lair. ‘Twas clear to him then,
The count of his hours to end had come,
Done were his days." (Beowulf)

o"Poor Grendel's had an accident," I whisper… (Grendel)

1. Epic "Beowulf"
2. John Gardner's novel "Grendel"

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • The Similarities and Differences between Grendel and Beowulf

    ...Grendel Approach Paper I. Grendel by John Gardner tells the story of a beast-like creature, Grendel, who is portrayed as a monstrous, violent, and cruel animal. Grendel is generally given names, referred to as the evil spawn of Cain, and even viewed as a monster. Yet, Grendel shares the same language as humans do, to try to identify and exp...

    Read More
  • John Gardner's Life and Grendel

    ...March 2010 John Gardner’s Grendel The author of Grendel, John Gardner, is considered one of the most influential and controversial authors in the twenty-first century. Known for his brutal honesty in religion and society, which is most commonly reflected in his novel. In his novel Grendel, John Gardner translates his personal tragedies int...

    Read More
  • Beowulf and Grendel

    ...Grendel as a Bully or Grendel as Pleasant Have you ever heard the same story twice and had a different view on the story the second time you heard it? This is what happened in the novel Grendel by John Gardner; it was a retelling of the epic poem Beowulf just Gardner gave the reader an insight to what it was like to be in Grendel’s shoes...

    Read More
  • An Essential Theme in John Gardner's Grendel

    ...Essential Theme in John Gardner's Grendel In art museums, there are ageless paintings and sculptures. On the radio, classical music and classic rock is still played. These are some of today's ways of carrying on the past through art forms. The painter and the rock legend are artists immortalized through their works. The artists in Grendel are t...

    Read More
  • Beowulf and Grendel: Competition between Rivals

    ...Competition between rivals causes a battle over the mead halls. Jealousy leads to rage between protagonists. These leaders include Unferth, Beowulf and Grendel. In the stories Beowulf and Grendel, there are fierce encounters between enemies who attempt to defend their boasts and seek revenge, leaving no true hero. “…I can show the wise Hro...

    Read More
  • Gardner's Grendel and Existentialism

    ...Gardner chose to display the philosophical idea of existentialism in his novel, Grendel. Grendel, the main character, shows proof of supporting these ideas. Existentialism related to the basic idea of individualism, in which each individual is an isolated being too which is cast into an alien universe. In this literary theory, it is believed...

    Read More
  • Comparison Between Beowulf the Epic and Beowulf the Film

    ...Similarities between Beowulf and “Beowulf” Beowulf, an epic written down in the year 1060 by the Beowulf Poet, is the epitome of what true writing is, defining the standard of the epic itself. The more modern film of “Beowulf”, produced in 2007, is an attempt to do justice to the Beowulf Poet’s masterpiece. The poem and film have sev...

    Read More
  • Meaning of Life and Novel Grendel

    ... 10-2-12 Grendel Essay Outline. In the novel Grendel, John Gardner, through Grendel’s character, portrays the universal struggle all humans face to find meaning in life. Grendel, just like everyone else wants to find his meaning, and purpose. Though he struggles, Grendel is ultimately trying to find himself in all of the things that h...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.