I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good friend?"
"It is bitter-bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter
And because it is my heart."
- Stephen Crane
This reflects how both Grendel and Frankenstein must have felt during their lonely lives. The monsters simply wanted to live as the rest of society does. However, in our prejudice of their kind, we banish them from our elite society. Who gave society the right to judge who is acceptable and who is not? A better question would be who is going to stop society from judging? The answer is no one. Therefor, society continues to alienate the undesirables of our community. Some of the greatest minds of all time have been socially unacceptable. Albert Einstein lived alone and rarely wore socks of the same colour. Van Gogh found comfort only in his art and the women who constantly denied his passion. Edgar Allen Poe was "different" to say the least, consumed by the morose. Just like these great men, Grendel and Frankenstein's monster do not conform to the societal model. Also like these men, Grendel and the monster are uniquely superior to the rest of mankind. Their superiority is seen through their guile to live in a society that ostrasises their kind.
Grendel, though he needs to kill to do so, functions very well in his own sphere. Grendel survives in a hostile climate where he is hated and feared by all do to his frightening physical appearance. He lives in a cave protected by fire-snakes so as to physically and spiritually separate himself from the society that detests yet admires him. Grendel is "the brute existents by which [humankind] learns to define itself" (Gardener 73). Hrothgar's thanes continually try to extinguish Grendel's infernal rage, while he simply wishes to live in harmony with them.
Like Grendel, Frankenstein's monster also learns to live in a society that despises his kind. Frankenstein must also kill, but this is only in response to the people's abhorrence of him. Ironically, the very man who bore him now searches the globe seeking the creature's destruction. Even the ever-loving paternal figure now turns away from this outcast from society. The monster journeys all over the world to escape from the societal ills that lead everyone to hate him. He ventures to the harshest most desolate, most uninhabitable place known, the north pole knowing that Frankenstein will follow. Frankenstein does pursue his creation in hopes of pushing it to the edge of the world trusting that the monster would fall off. At the same time, the monster leads Frankenstein to the solitude of the icy glaciers in hopes of better explaining to Frankenstein how he exists in society. The monster lives this way until his father's death, where they join in the perpetual silent acceptance of death. Frankenstein's creation makes only a few attempts to become one with society and almost gives up until he is accepted by the captain. As the captain listens to the monster's story he begins to understand the monster's plight. He accepts the monster as a reluctant, yet devoted servant to his master. Although the monster does not "belong", he is accepted with admiration by the captain. The respect that he has longed for is finally given to him as he announces his suicide in the name of his father, the late Victor Frankenstein. On the other hand, Grendel makes numerous attempts to assimilate into society, but society repeatedly turns him back. Early in his life, Grendel dreams of associating with Hrothgar's great warriors. Nightly, he goes down to the meadhall to listen to Hrothgar's stories of the thanes' heroism, but most of all, he attends to hear the Shaper. The Shaper's stories are Grendel's only education as they enlighten him to the history of the society that he yearns to join. "[The Shaper] changed the world, had...
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