Is Grendel Evil?

Topics: 2005 singles, Good and evil, Evil Pages: 6 (2299 words) Published: October 15, 2000
In a world of chaos, he who lives, lives by his own laws and values. Who is to say that the death of millions is any worse or better, for that matter, than injuring a cockroach. And in the case of an existing power in the form of God, who is presumed to be all which is good, presiding and ruling an organized universe, why then does evil exist? The prosaic response of "without evil, there is no good" no longer holds any validity in this argument as the admitted goal of good is to reach an existence without evil. So even if a God does exist, I think it is fair, at this point, to say that he is the embodiment of both good and evil. And if humoring those who would answer the previous question with the response that there can be no good without evil, then can we assume that evil is simply a subsection of a defined good? Or perhaps even a good thing? If it is essential, those who chose the side of evil are simply abiding by good values. In the case of a world ruled by Chaos, evil is a non-existent word or value, rather. The system upon which a person's actions are judged also disappears leaving nothing but an instinct for natural survival as basic and primary as the life within the forests which we tear down to build our houses.

Ethics is a wide field of philosophical study to which the core of every question within falls to one side of a blurred line. On the right, is good; the value which is popularly believed to be the correct alignment for which a person should live their life according to. On the left, is evil; that which is the cause of most human misery, and prevents peace on earth. In John Gardner's book Grendel, the retelling of the ages old story Beowulf, further blurs the line between good and evil. Circumstance and perhaps a confused view of reality allow the monster, Grendel, to conceivably defend his evil beliefs. In order to better understand evil, using Grendel as a guide, I intend to attempt to justify it. Grendel is born a neutral being, perhaps even good, but nevertheless, without hate. The transition which he undergoes to become evil is due to misunderstandings between himself and humans and also meeting with a dragon who is questionably evil. As a young "monster", Grendel knew nothing other than the cave he lived in and his mother who could not speak any distinguishable language. He was a playful creature who seemed to be like a "blank slate" and had no thoughts of that which he could not touch or see. As a result of his interaction with humans (and of course the dragon), he develops a sort of wisdom and philosophy of life and existence. When society (humans) reject his desire to co-exist with them, he turns to evil as punishment for the humans although it provides no solace for him. Though he does not actually remember how he'd learned it, John Gardner's Grendel speaks a language which is similar to that of the human characters in the book and is, therefore, able to understand them. During Grendel's first encounter with humans, he pleads to them for assistance when he is caught and wounded in a trap. The leader of the humans is Hrothgar who eventually becomes king of the Danes. When Grendel's cry for help is mistaken for a cry of attack, the humans attack Grendel and wound him more painfully than flesh could be wounded. The first intelligent, speaking beings, with some similarity to himself, which Grendel has encountered, have attacked instead of helped him. It is in this moment that Grendel forms his first opinions of existence; the outside world does not seem to embrace good as he does. In a one-way conversation he has with his mother after the incident (Chapter 2), Grendel says, " the world resists me and I resist it. That's all there is. The mountains are what I define them as." In the statement, " the mountains are what I define them as", Grendel starts to form a belief of a sort of reality which does not actually exist. Life is meant to be lived as the owner wishes...
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