Grendel and Cain and how they relate in "Beowulf"

Topics: Cain and Abel, God, Good and evil Pages: 4 (1548 words) Published: March 26, 2003
Grendel and Cain

In the story of Beowulf you get a glimpse of many different themes throughout this epic. Those themes range from good and evil to those of death and glory. The story itself depicts a period in history when life was lead "blind" through the teachings of the book of the lord and his spoken words. At this same period in history traditional pagan religious practices and beliefs have slowly given way to the ideals and philosophy of Christianity. Many of the themes held within the pages of Beowulf stem from the proverbs and fables recited and practiced in the Old Testament, while concurrently adding pagan beliefs of monsters, demons, and multiple gods. The most striking of these biblical comparisons is viewed between Grendel (the protagonist, evil rival of Beowulf) and Cain (the evil brother of Able). In the Old Testament, Cain kills his brother Abel and is consequently punished and banished from the Garden of Eden by God. His actions proved to have a dramatic effect on the life of Grendel and the choices he makes throughout his life until his epic struggle for victory over the Geats and Beowulf himself. Symbolically and genetically, Grendel assumes the role of his ancestor Cain in this epic story as an outsider, disowned from the rest of society, finding a home only among the unknown (evil) and those who have sinned. Feeding on the flesh and blood of god's creations, Grendel starts a vigorous battle to destroy all that is good and the things he can not have. To the Anglo-Saxons and the creators of Beowulf, one of the worst crimes a person could have committed in life was that of murdering ones kin (or the killing of one's brother). During the era of this writing the figure of Cain is used metaphorically to represent "the unknown" (chaos, evil) and the presence of evil. Cain defies gods will and so he secludes himself to the evils of the surrounding world only to foster a hatred of god and a family cursed for eternity. The period in which Grendel...
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