Examples Of Exile In Beowulf

1157 Words5 Pages
Cyndy Salcedo
Jones 2
Beowulf Essay
29 Thursday 2016
Community Exile
Exile often turns individuals into monsters. In Beowulf, the main example would be Grendel, a descendant of Cain. The poet claims that Grendel lives, “in misery among the banished monsters, / Cain’s clan, whom the Creator had outlawed / and condemned as outcasts” (Heaney 105-107). Due to his ancestry, Grendel does not live with the other humans, but instead in the swamps outside of the Danes’ territory. His life is miserable and he adopts a great hatred towards the Danes for celebrating every night in bliss. “It harrowed him / to hear the din of the loud banquet / every day in the hall” (88-87). This stems from the fact that Grendel lives in exile, which is the curse set from
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In Grendel's case, it is the latter. In his introduction, Grendel attacks the mead-hall of the Danes, Heorot. “Greedy and grim, he grabbed thirty men / from their resting places and rushed to his lair, / flushed up and inflamed from the raid, / blundering back with the butchered corpses” (Heaney 122-125). He gives no second thought in bringing despair to the Danes who were celebrating nightly in joy and prosperity. However, this also backfires on him, since he will not be able to mend his exile and isolation. In fact, his actions only make his situation worse. According to Kirsten Weir, a freelance-writer and editor who specializes in science and psychology, “If someone’s primary concern is to reassert a sense of control, he or she may become aggressive as a way to force others to pay attention. Sadly, that can create a downward spiral. When people act aggressively, they’re even less likely to gain social acceptance.” The murders of thirty men in Heorot forces King Hrothgar’s men to leave for the safety of their lives and causes great grief for the king himself. However, Grendel feels no remorse in his actions and continues to murder the Danes every night when the men are asleep to avoid any physical fights. This leads to the idea of the different lifestyle between Grendel who lived in exile and the Danes who had lived in constant company of other…show more content…
The poet describes Grendel as, “Malignant by nature, he never showed remorse” (137). In this sense, the poet claims that Grendel, by genetics and ancestry, has natural violent tendencies and couldn’t care less about his actions. Furthermore, Grendel also finds excitement in creating bloodbaths, as shown in the moments before his fight with Beowulf. “And his glee was demonic, / picturing the mayhem” (730-731). In this sense (keeping in mind of his ancestry and his mother), Grendel’s genes cause this type of mentality. However, personalities are not only based by genetics, but also by environmental factors. With that in mind, Grendel’s upbringing must have also played a role in his actions. In fact, the poet says in Grendel’s introduction, “…out of the curse of his exile there sprang / ogres and elves and evil phantoms / and the giants too who strove with God / time and again until He gave them their reward” (111-114). These monsters are descendants of Cain, just like Grendel, so readers can safely assume that Grendel also strives with God to remove their curse. In fact, despite being a monster, the poet also makes subtle hints that Grendel has human-like traits, such as cowardice and the desire for acceptance. So his exile, instead of cultivating his human qualities he could possess, further strengthened his malignant nature and his desires to strive

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