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Antigone And Grendel Comparison

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If someone were to pick copies of Antigone by Sophocles and Grendel by John Gardner and read them, he or she would find that the two pieces of literature are very different. Antigone is an Ancient Greek play that was written in or before the year 441 BC, while Grendel is a piece of fantasy written by an American author over 2000 years later. Antigone depicts the story of a woman named Antigone who is angry at King Creon for choosing to not bury her brother Polyneices. She then decides to bury him herself and in turn suffers the consequences for her actions. Grendel is about a monster who struggles with finding meaning in the world as well as deciphering between different philosophies. These seem pretty different, right? However, if the person…show more content…
In Grendel, John Gardner sets Grendel out on a journey to discover his philosophy. The argument of fate vs. free will is an important topic that runs through Grendel’s mind throughout the novel. An example is when he watches the mountain goat try to run up the mountain but repeatedly fails. Grendel is angry and attempts to kill the goat. However, he has some trouble doing so, and says, “It’s not easy to kill a mountain goat. He thinks with his spine,” (Gardner, 140). This quote shows Grendel’s trend toward believing in fate. When Grendel says the goat thinks with his spine, he means that it is doing what it is born to do. It is a goat, will always be a goat, and will always do goat-like things. Grendel’s belief in determinism is not something that he always had, but developed throughout the novel. In the end, Grendel believes in fate and accepts it. Finally, his own fate becomes reality and he is killed. Antigone, on the other hand, does not go into philosophy all that much. Instead, it introduces the theme of fate through foreshadowing. There are multiple examples of foreshadowing in the play. One such example is in the prologue when Antigone says, “I am not afraid of the danger; if it means death, It will not be the worst of deaths-death without honor,” (Sophocles, 80-81). This shows in the very beginning of the play that…show more content…
One of the main reasons this is the case is because of the underlying motif of determinism. Determinism is the belief that all events that happen are determined by causes outside of the free will. In Antigone, all of the events that transpire toward the end of the play are at least partially attributed to Creon’s tragic flaw, which is his stubbornness and pride in himself. One of many examples of this is his encounter with Teiresias when he says “You forget yourself! You are speaking to your King...Whatever you say, you will not change my will,” (Sophocles, 834 and 840). Creon has so much pride in himself that he looks past the advice of wise men, such as Teiresias, and sticks with his decision regarding Antigone. If he would have listened to the advice, the play would have ended differently. However, it was predetermined that he was not going to listen to them because of his tragic flaw of pride. Similarly, it was predetermined that Grendel would be killed by Beowulf, as previously discussed. “I am slick with blood. I discover I no longer feel pain. Animals gather around me, enemies of old, to watch me die,” (Gardner, 173). The audience knew this moment would come the entire time because Grendel’s death had been predetermined. The motif of determinism is present from start to finish in both Antigone and Grendel and plays a large role in developing the theme of fate. Overall, the plots of Antigone
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