Theme Of Exile In Beowulf

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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 causes him to feel 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 God cursed Cain and his descendants, including Grendel, to forever live in exile. Due to this curse, Grendel…show more content…
He sets out to disrupt the tranquility of the Danish people. “…and there he came upon them, a company of the best / asleep from their feasting, insensible to pain / and human sorrow” (118-120). While the poet does not clarify whether the noise aggravates Grendel or rather the joy between company, Grendel feels furious and wants to make the Danes experience great pain. In How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster, a published author and literature professor, eating meals together symbolizes a type of communion between characters, whether positive or negative. In this case, a negative communion takes place, which signifies the antagonistic relationship between Grendel and the Danes. “…our revulsion at the act of murder is reinforced by our sense that a very important propriety, namely that one should not do evil to one’s dinner companions, is being violated” (Foster 11). Granted, Grendel has never been invited as a dinner companion, but the idea persists: he attacks the Danes after their parties to ruin their nightly celebrations and install fear in them. These acts of cruelty cause the Danes to see Grendel as a monster simply because the demon wants vengeance for the injustice of his…show more content…
Grendel, due to his ancestry, lives in exile, “…haunting the marches, marauding round the heath / and the desolate fens” (Heaney 103-104). He lives a life in isolation, away from the presence of human civilization, which in turn brings an impact as to how he acts and feels. He brings chaos and grief to the people of Danes for years simply because his exile formed him into a hateful being. “…for who could be blind / to the evidence of his eyes, the obviousness / of the hall-watcher’s hate?” (140-142). Grendel reacts with violence when he becomes enraged at the constant celebrating of the Danes, then sneaking into Heorot at night to murder the men in their sleep. His exile causes him to know no other way to handle situations outside of massacres, fear, and vengeance. His violent nature and actions that stems from his isolation ultimately creates his monstrous depiction from which the humans see him as remorseless and evil. These three ideas induce the fact that Grendel’s exile leads to his malevolent nature and in turn, a
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