Compare And Contrast Beowulf And Grendel's Mother

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There is no one true Beowulf. Each representation and translation of Beowulf tells its own unique story. Even though renditions are derived from the original Old English oral poem, altering minor details based on perception results in differing stories. In the Old English version of the poem that is side by side with Heaney’s translation, the original scribe describes Grendel’s mother as a “he” rather than using a feminine pronoun. Both Seamus Heaney’s translation and Robert Zemeckis’s depiction display versions of Grendel’s mother derived from the Old English version. Although they are based off of the same character these two depictions seem like polar opposites. Robert Zemeckis’s depiction of Grendel’s mother is much more sexualized than…show more content…
Upon her introduction in the poem, she is described as “. . .the one who haunted those waters” (Heaney ll. 1497). By using the word haunted, Heaney portrays someone who is to be feared. By using the past tense, haunted, instead of present tense, haunts, he asserts that Grendel’s mother is someone who has earned her reputation of fear over a long period of time. She is described as having “savage talons” and being a “wolfish swimmer” (Heaney ll. 1404-1406). These descriptions depict her as a monstrous being who is more beast than human. The adjective “wolfish” portrays her as a vicious animal, while “talon” is defined as “the claw of an animal and especially of a bird of prey” (Merriam-Webster). This description shows Grendel’s mother as an apex predator with beyond human traits. A few lines later, Grendel’s mother is described as a “swamp-thing from hell” (Heaney ll. 1518). The line is power provoking because it paints Grendel’s mother to be a satanic creature which represents all that is evil. “Swamp-thing” also gives the reader a picture of an alligator-like monster. Grendel’s mother’s actual appearance is never described in poem. Instead, an image must be created based on interpretations and drawing from some of the reader’s worst fears. The tone of the entire passage presents Grendel’s mother as an inhumane…show more content…
While Heaney provides few details of her appearance, Zemeckis shows a concrete visualization of her character. Each version produces a completely different narrative of the same story simply by varying the nature of this single character. Heaney describes Grendel’s mother as a vicious beast while Zemeckis alters her to be a sexualized character. These differences snowball into two completely different stories. The audience's choice of medium and author can result in completely different understandings of the poem Beowulf. There are infinite
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