Is Grendel Evil or Victim to Circumstance? : How humanity has a tendency to put labels on people they don’t really understand.
In the epic of Beowulf, one of the warrior’s biggest adversaries is a creature from the swamp named Grendel. Although the character of Grendel is present for only a short portion in the story of Beowulf, Grendel signifies one of the important messages in the text about humanity. In Beowulf, Grendel is called a ‘monster’. However, if observed closely, analyzing the meaning behind the story, it is easy to see that Grendel is not a typical monster, in fact, it doesn’t seem like he is a monster at all. There is much evidence within the short period of the text where Grendel is present, which indicates he is not a true monster. In observing the relationship with his mother, his circumstances of his given situation, and his own actions it is obvious that the character of Grendel is extremely complex and is much more than just your typical ‘monster’.
The first evidence of this is found with observing his circumstances in which he is forced into. The first and foremost distinct difference between Grendel and any other typical monster is that Grendel never made a conscious choice to be evil. In Beowulf, Grendel’s circumstances were given to him, he did not choose them. “He had dwelt in for a time/ in misery among the banished monsters,/ Cain’s clan, whom the Creator had outlawed/ and condemned as outcasts.” (Beowulf 104-107). Grendel was punished for not only a crime he didn’t commit, but a crime that was carried out by a person who we merely was a descended from, a very long time ago. The punishment for what, a long past family member did, was a life of loneliness and banishment. This given circumstance is another huge way in where Grendel has a gigantic impact on the story. Grendel is a representation and symbol of evil for Christianity, but at the same time it also symbolizes the unfairness and the closed minded way of thinking that...
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