Philosophical symbolism in Grendel In the novel Grendel the shaper and the dragon both talk about life. The Shaper has a good view point of life and the dragon has a bad view point of life. The Shaper talks about what the universe and world around us has to offer through his stories.
Up until the end of Chapter 7, Grendel’s actions are influenced by the dragon. He believes nothing matters, there is no good or bad, and everybody eventually dies. The people of Heort know Grendel as a monster and a killer and he lives up to his reputation.
Grendel let’s the animals know that his fate will soon happen to him and he knows this, but the animals are not understood they are just looking at him slowly die. “Overcome by both terror and joy, Grendel whispers to them, “Poor Grendel’s had an accident. . . . So may you all” (Gardner 12). Grendel whisper’s the quote and is overcome with joy because he never knew that the animals were so calm and that they wouldn’t attack him for unexplainable reasons and he is terrified because he remembers all the times that he was attacked or spooked off by the animals. Finally, Grendel is done with life he get’s to the cliff and sits there thinking about what’s going to happen in his life flashes before his eyes and he thinks of how Beowulf got him and claims it was an accident because she slipped on blood, so he runs out of the hall.
Grendel’s story is not only from his perspective, but it also starts far before Beowulf enters the picture. Grendel does not even know of man’s existence before he encountered Hrothgar whom he starts to fear when he says “I knew I was dealing with no dull mechanical bull but with thinking creatures, pattern makers. The most dangerous things I’d ever met” (pg 27). His first encounter with these men left him wanting more. He spent most nights watching them in the shadows, trying to make sense of their actions.
He asks the cosmos for someone to talk to, but of course receives no answer. Despite his aspirations to philosophical introspection, Grendel is essentially a lonely child looking for a friend. He envies both the Shaper and Hrothgar their companionship, even though he is constantly complaining about their self-deception and futility. Grendel sees the companionship of another as something higher (at least at the moment) than some abstract set of principles by which to live his life. So much for heroism.
His violent nature grew so much that he became crazy with the need to kill the humans. Therefore, Grendel’s actions reflect that his existence has drifted away from its partially civilized nature and into the barbaric. Grendel had no choice in becoming more beast than human because external forces constantly push him towards that fate. Whether it was the dragon, the actions of the humans, or Grendel’s own unconscious tendencies, he never really had the opportunity to make a choice, human or beast. What Grendel said and thought always clashed with the situations he encountered until there was simply no possibility of becoming the good in the way
Early in the novel, Grendel listens to the Shaper and says “he told of an ancient feud between two brothers which split all the world between darkness and light. And I, Grendel, was the dark side” (Gardner 51). Grendel believes the words of the Shaper and is overcome with sadness at the truth in it. In most cases, truly evil characters take pride in being viewed as threatening figures. Grendel, on the other hand, is ashamed and does not wish to be viewed as a dark figure.
He states, “A shock goes through me. Mistake!”. Grendel realizes he has been tricked because Beowulf’s eyes were open. What disturbs Grendel most is when Beowulf whispers to him “spilling words like showers of sleet, his mouth three inches from my ear. I will not listen.
John Gardner gave Grendel emotions that the reader was able to see and hear through his own words. Grendel told tales of his childhood causing the reader to become invested in Grendel’s past giving the feeling of a connection. As in the way he describes instances of his imaginative play, “I use to play games when I was young…explored our far-flung underground world in an endless wargame of leaps onto nothing…quick whispered plottings with invisible friends” (Gardner 15). Consequently, this information gives the feeling of sympathy for Grendel, for his lonely childhood and circumstance. Gardner continues to play on the sympathies of the reader after Grendel’s first interaction with the Danes.
Grendel in the novel displays the idea that he is far more superior than mankind. He mentions, "I am swollen with excitement, bloodlust and joy and a strange fear that mingle in my chest like the twisting rage of a bonfire" (Gardner 167-168). Grendel knows that that the people fear him because he is different and he uses that to his advantage. The "Monster", Grendel, seems to be fascinated in attacking Meadhall and is not frightened at all. Although he is brave in the novel, Grendel in the epic poem is described in being scared and weak on the attack at Meadhall.
Grendel begins attacking the humans, “I eat and laugh until I can barely walk, my chest-hair matted with dribbled blood... my belly rumbles, sick on their sour meat” (Gardner 12). Grendel went from crying for his mother when his foot got stuck in a branch to killing and eating dozens of people. Seeing the events that lead up to this how Grendel did helps us further see the transformation he is making. It’s the isolation from the humans that transforms Grendel, “Not, of course, that I fool myself with thoughts that I'm more noble.
Contrasting Grendel and Frankenstein Grendel and the monster Frankenstein are contradictory in their individual philosophies and actions, although they are both isolated and lonesome, they come from different origins, think differently, and take significantly different actions, and their very fates were catastrophically no unique. Grendel is mortified with his purpose in life and driven by emotions which makes him plead for his purpose. “I had determined at the time that the memory of these evils should die with me; but you have won me to alter my determination” (14). He has to face the purpose he was told to behold since he was born and lived in Dane Kingdom. Ever since that he roamed around killing, “But deer, like rabbits and bears and even men, can make, concerning my race, no delicate distinctions.
This time however, he is swept away by a person name the Shaper, who Grendel is ultimately scared of, because of the fact that the shaper is very good at changing the view of people very easily. During this same period, Grendel started to become more violent as well, first by attacking the humans. Grendel didn’t like the way Hrothgar lived and made the Mead Hall and in response, Grendel started to attack it at night. He killed anyone and everything that came into his sight, and even ate the humans. Grendel now became a real threat to the humans, which inevitably changed his status from sinister to pure