Heroism In Beowulf

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Not all heroes wear capes. Well, in novels and movies, they tend to. From the start, heros have always been someone who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. In poems such as Beowulf, which date back to the 10th century, implement the hero’s model in its purest form. The main character, Beowulf, is the stereotypical hero that comes from a far away land to defeat the monstrous antagonist Grendel, and defend the impotent villagers. More modern novels such as Grendel, depict the hero model in much different way. Grendel, the antagonist and protagonist, suffers through an extended existential crisis and is forced to deal with his monstrous instinct. The “hero” of this novel, Beowulf, is portrayed as…show more content…
Grendel by John Gardner offers a parallel perspective to the old english poem Beowulf. The novel tells the story from the perspective of the antagonist and elaborates on the struggle this monster must endure. Grendel is at constant war with his inner demons, he appreciates beautiful things and is hopeful that one day he could posses them and live in harmony with them. Quotes such as “Some evil inside myself pushed out into the trees. I knew what I knew, the mindless, mechanical bruteness of things, and when the harper 's lure drew my mind away to hopeful dreams...” (54), perfectly captures Grendel 's struggle. At this point he still struggles with his destiny and role in life as the villain. Beowulf is insane because everything he does seems mechanical. He kills with eagerness and lives for the pain of his kills. In page 171, the novel says, “Grendel, Grendel! You make the world by whispers, second by second. Are you blind to that? Whether you make it a grave or a garden of roses is not the point. Feel the wall: is it not hard? He smashes me against it, breaks open my forehead. Hard, yes!” (171). The supposed to be perfect hero turns out to be a sadistic murderer, who even Grendel towards the end confuses him with another fellow monster rather than seeing him as the slayer of beast, kinsman

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