Grendel: A Demon of Depravity Evil exists naturally within us, it always has and always will. And while it may not be a finite item, that we can touch and see, the beings that possess it are. Arguably the most critical concept in John Gardner's epic, Grendel, evil, as a character trait, is well adopted by the text's main antagonist, Grendel. Not a human but a self-conscious being, Grendel is portrayed as one of the most vile beasts depicted in literature, as he initiates scenes of blood-curdling murder, feeding a ruthless addiction all the while. Despite carrying out such heinous acts, the reader may find himself caring for Grendel, possibly routing for him at points as he battles with the Thames and even his own thoughts.
Grendel in both stories is described as a vicious "Monster", but is viewed differently. The character of Grendel, in the novel by John Gardner, portrays a different visualization than that of Grendel in the epic poem Beowulf. In the novel the story is told in first person point of view which gives Grendel human qualities while Grendel in Beowulf is told in third person point of view not giving Grendel his standpoint. In both works, the authors give two different perspectives of Grendel. Grendel in the novel is not seen as a "Monster", but as a human that has emotions and is very sympathetic about everything that comes his way.
Yes, a warrior conducting oneself in accordance to Anglo-Saxon ideals does produce a good king in the end. In Beowulf, many characters such as Wiglaf, Unferth, Grendel, and Beowulf display to the reader how if one is a proper warrior, he possesses the ability to govern as a fit king. While Grendel is by no means an Anglo-Saxon warrior, he serves as an excellent example of how conducting oneself in a violent, non-conforming way ultimately leads to a demise. In addition to Grendel, Unferth is by no means a proper warrior when analyzed next to Anglo-Saxon ideals, however he lies between Beowulf and Grendel where he possesses the ability to become a good warrior, in turn giving him kingship. Beowulf and Wiglaf show how good warriors will in the end produce good kings through their conduct and heroic actions performed in the poem.
In Grendel, by John Gardner, the majority of the story is focused on a character named Grendel, who is characterized as monster-like. During the story the readers are permitted entrance to Grendel’s subliminal and inner monologue, providing the sense of a personal relationship with him. This leads to enthrall one into express sympathy with Grendel, with historic literature in novels the main character is predominately a “good guy”, so having him be the protagonist this helps support that theory. Though this happen, Grendel often proves that he is ultimately not the hero in the novel. The contact that he has socially is highly limited, but his personality is extremely affected by this short contact with the other characters.
The heroic knight in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight manifests many of the characteristics of the chivalric knight and hero. Among them, he proves to have modesty, honesty, commitment, courage, and an even temperament. As the Green Giant said,“You're the finest man that will ever walked this earth./So Gawain indeed stands out above all other knights" (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 335-336). Also, Sir Gawain engages in the activities/plot type that define him as a hero: the call, the journey, the helpers, the final ordeals, and then the life-renewing goal. Although he was almost the ideal model to fit the hero role, Sir Gawain does accomplish a single error while staying in the lord’s household.
In Beowulf, Grendel the dragon is looked at in a very negative light, as an evil character. This is due to the strong descriptive words that the author uses, such as: “a powerful monster…in darkness…growled in pain” (pg.41 L. ). These words paint a clear picture of Grendel, and it supplies you a feeling for how evil the beast truly is. The epic states that Grendel was “spawned in that slime” (pg.41 L.), giving a very dark image of what he was conceived into. Grendel is a character of true evil.
Beowulf, written during the eight century, is an Anglo-Saxon epic poem. The story revolves around the strongest warrior at the time, Beowulf, who accomplishes heroic feats to gain glory and fame. In the medieval romance “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” the story dramatizes a knight’s traits of honesty and loyalty. The stories share many similarities such as questing, protecting self-honor, and achieving glorious deeds on behalf of his king.
Sir Gawain and the Green knight is one of the oldest and best known Arthurian stories that is thought to date back to the late fourteenth century. A knight is understood to be a warrior and a strong individual who serves a monarch or leader, but what really makes a knight? What qualities and morals are expected of a knight? Are strength and prowess enough or are knights supposed to be chivalrous, courteous, brave, and honorable? If so, did they ever make mistakes or were they perfect?
Movies are cinematic depictions of written ideas manipulated to appease audiences composed of ever-changing individuals. Within the epic Beowulf (Heaney 2000), and the film Beowulf and Grendel (Gunnarsson 2005) you are able to make a clear distinction. The epic portrays one of the first cultures in human existence while the film portrays the modern culture that we are all familiar with today. The differences can be thought of as a representation of who we once were, and what we have evolved into today.
When one visualizes the word “hero”, often images of hulking, muscled people in military uniforms, fireman carrying children from burning houses, or police officers arresting dangerous criminals come to mind. Most heroes are commonly described as handsome and strong, almost as if they look like a God; and because of that, some are even treated as if they are royalty. Young people may imagine a highly-skilled, famous athlete or a good-looking movie star. However, a true hero is more often defined by inner qualities rather than outside appearances or even grand gestures of bravery.