Chapter 4 to Chapter 6

Chapter 4: Summary

In the evenings, Grendel continues to spy on Hrothgar’s mead hall, listening to the Shaper. He has had a profound influence on Hrothgar’s people, inspiring the king to build a “magnificent meadhall high on a hill.” The Shaper continues to listen to the Shaper’s glorified stories, though he has added a new reason to be skeptical: the Shaper is highly motivated to impress a particular woman from Hrothgar’s community.

The contrast between the Shaper’s idealism and reality is further emphasized when, while listening to the musician-storyteller, Grendel finds the corpse of a man who was robbed. His throat had been slit. Directly after, Grendel hears one of the stories that influences him most.

According to the Shaper, “the greatest of gods made the world,” including every living things. Then, the Shaper describes “an ancient feud between two brothers which split all the world between darkness and light.” Grendel identifies himself in the story as the dark side, the “terrible race God cursed.”

Although the murdered man is proof that humans are cursed as well, Grendel still runs the humans to ask forgiveness, still holding the robbed man’s corpse, but they interpret his behavior as an attack. They attack him with their weapons, which the Danes often treat with venom, driving him away from the town in tears.

Grendel roars through the woods, screaming obscenities he overheard from humans. Two nights later, however, he returns for more, and once again, leaves in a rage. He begins to feel a strange presence and, reaching out to touch a vine, accidentally touches a snake. Returning home, his mother tries to talk to him, but she can only whimper and make sounds.

Waking up surrounded by the presence again, Grendel leaves the cave and walks to the moor. Making his “mind a blank,” he allows himself to sink “like a stone through earth and sea” to the lair of the dragon.


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Essays About Grendel