Comparing Grendel And Beowulf

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The Wyrd Cross between Christianity and Fate in Beowulf/Grendel The poem Beowulf, authored by an anonymous person, remains to be one of the oldest epics in the Anglo-Saxon tradition. The poem serves as an important influence for later literature; the novel Grendel by John Gardner is one example. The settings of Beowulf and Grendel are a result of the assimilation of Christianity into the Anglo-Saxon pagan religion. Not only did the Anglo-Saxons belief in spiritual predestination but also in fatalism. As a result of the combination of pagan and Christian beliefs in Beowulf and Grendel, the characters are heavily influenced by the concept of "fate.” This belief system describes all things as being predetermined and known to occur. The point of…show more content…
His mother is no longer able to mentally function as she never interacts with Grendel, and the humans he interacts with fear him, so he gets no real interaction from anyone. Consequently, Grendel describes himself as only existing and everything else is just imagination. Isolation takes a toll on the mentally of most people, so it isn’t illogical to assume that Grendel is breaking down from his seclusion. He is arguing with himself over his own thoughts as shown on page 3 of the novel: “Not, of course, that I fool myself with thoughts that I'm more noble. Pointless, ridiculous monster crouched in the shadows, stinking of dead men, murdered children, martyred cows. (I am neither proud nor ashamed, understand. One more dull victim, leering at seasons that were never meant to be observed.) ‘Ah, sad one, poor old freak!’” (Gardner 6). The reader gets insight on Grendel’s perceptions of himself. He is in conflict with the definition of existence. Grendel strongly believes that he has always been permanently an outsider; Grendel is unnatural, he is a killer since he has slaughtered numerous humans, and a creature that needs not exist at all. His mother’s muteness plays a major role as it was his fate to be isolated. Grendel, as the monster, must never feel affection since he is not a human, or “loving creature.” In the novel, Grendel visualizes moments where he doesn’t even know who…show more content…
First, Grendel is a “devil spawn” so is predetermined to be evil. In the novel, Grendel realizes that he has to be evil, but he doesn’t think he is. He describes himself as “The terrible race God cursed” (Gardner 51). If Grendel is truly a descendant of the cursed Cain, then it is certainly possible that Grendel could be suffering from an action that he had no knowledge of. Grendel has no control over his fate; he wants to break his fate, but the dragon tells him to embrace it. “You are, so to speak, the brute existent by which they learn to define themselves” (Gardner 73). Solomon notes that fate is fixed, no matter what, it cannot change. Secondly, Beowulf is a depiction of the “New Christ” so has to be a war hero. Historically, the Christian faith had predicted that the Messiah was to be a war hero. The fight is given detail in the poem by “But Beowulf grappled and gripped him hard, / Struggled up on his elbow the shepherd of sins…” (Beowulf 566-567) The Kenning “the shepherd of sins” is Biblical irony as it represents the Antichrist. Once again, this reiterates the idea that Grendel is from the lineage of Cane. In “Beowulf, the Old Testament, and The Regula Fidei,” Christopher M. Cain illuminates the inherent contradictions and similarities in Beowulf and Bible scripture. Cain notices that “Wyrd is used to translate both fate and fortune. Wyrd is entirely under God's
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