Heaney And Zemecki's Adaptation Of Beowulf

1005 Words5 Pages
Passed down through various societies for multiple generations, the poem Beowulf is a true literary masterpiece. While first spread by word of mouth, the work was later transcribed, translated, and transformed into numerous forms of literature and media. Due to this, we know that their is not one true Beowulf. As Professor Martin Foys once said, “each generation gets the version of Beowulf it deserves”. These various adaptations led to differing tales of the conquests of Beowulf, as is the case with the first of the three agons, Beowulf’s clash with Grendel. Seamus Heaney’s new verse translation and Robert Zemecki’s movie adaptation portray this clash in differing ways, and the root cause of this is Grendel 's physical appearance. Heaney depicts…show more content…
Heaney’s descriptions of Grendel during the first agon represent a battle hardened creature, with a heart full of hate and rage. On the other hand, Zemecki’s half-breed herot is a creature who has been abandoned by his father and the rest of society, forced to live a desolate life in his mother’s lair. Where we encounter the two Grendel’s also helps us contrast who they are. We first encounter Heaney’s Grendel alone prowling in the borderlands, signifying him as a independent creature. Meanwhile, we first see Zemecki’s Grendel writhing in pain in his mother’s home. This helps depict this Grendel as a child-like creature, who does not wish to harm others. Finally, the differing reasons of the two Grendels’ decision to attack Herot is a direct result of their physical features. Heaney’s Grendel has no known physical weakness, so he chooses to attack Herot out of anger and evil, leading to the clash of humanity and monstrosity when Beowulf defeats Grendel. On the contrary, Zemecki’s Grendel is the one first struck by physical pain due to his sensitive ears. He thus attacks in retaliation, creating a fight between himself and Beowulf and the rest of the
Open Document