Free Will In Beowulf

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Since the beginning of time, people have debated about whether we make our own choices or if we live out a predetermined life. In literary works, the idea of fate being the reason for a character’s actions leads to empathy toward him/her. Free-will, however, makes the character responsible for his/her actions. In many literary cases, fate seems to be the reason for everything. In the epic poem Beowulf, Grendel is a murderous monster that terrorizes the people of Herot. Some may believe Grendel goes on his rampages because it’s what monsters do; however, there are numerous pieces of evidence suggesting that Grendel chooses his own actions.
To begin, Grendel enjoys terrorizing the people of Herot. He breaks into the mead hall at night and eats the people for his own amusement. In the novel Grendel by John Gardner, Grendel says that he is “swollen with excitement, bloodlust, and joy” as he walks into the mead hall (Gardner 126). Grendel becomes “mad with joy” when Beowulf arrives (Gardner 151). He has grown bored with attacking the same people and is happy for a new challenge. Also Grendel refers to himself as somewhat of a celebrity. He says “I am no longer a stranger here. A respected guest” when referring to the reactions he receives from the townspeople
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In Beowulf, there are two other monsters that the author focuses on. One is Grendel’s mother and the other is a dragon. Grendel’s mother is the same kind of monster as Grendel but she does not eat people. Grendel says that he thinks his mother is part human because she doesn’t do the same things he does (Gardner 11). Although the dragon is different, he is still a monster. The dragon only sleeps and guards his treasure. Both Grendel’s mother and the dragon do not attack anyone until provoked by man (Beowulf 419). Grendel, however, attacks without
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