Nihilism In Beowulf's Grendel Is Good

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Grendel is Good
Nihilism is perhaps the most important philosophy presented in Grendel. This idea is paramount because it informs the reader that there is no good or evil, just people with different agendas. Grendel may be a demon, but he’s a victim of the world. His communication barrier distanced him not only from his mother, but from the humanity he was fascinated with. His loneliness and false belief in nihilism drove him to become the very monster humans thought him to be. Grendel truly wanted to fit in, when he was stuck in the tree he attempted to speak with the humans, but scared them when he spoke old English. His mother tried to warn him of the humans, but because she couldn’t speak his tongue he couldn’t heed her advice until it was too late. Grendel was never necessarily a wicked being, but a misguided one.
Grendel’s personal philosophy changes drastically throughout the novel. His first
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The dragon and the Shaper have opposing views, as seen when the dragon directly attacks the Shaper’s philosophy when he tells Grendel “That’s where the Shaper saves them. Provides an illusion of reality… it keeps them going - for what that’s worth.” The Shaper represents the idea of systems and poetry. The Shaper receives very little characterization in Grendel, yet the reader is informed that he is physically blind, perhaps blind to rationality. The Shaper wants something greater than humanity as he gives the Danes something to live for, while the dragon appeals to Grendel’s logical side. The dragon is also characterized in a vivid way, compared to the Shaper who is an abstract figure. The Shaper’s ideas are the only ideas competing with the nihilistic ideas of the dragon. Grendel states “I gnashed my teeth and clutched the sides of my head as if to heal the split, but I couldn’t.” Not only is this foreshadowing to Grendel’s fate, but it’s symbolic of his split between these two
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