Have you considered seeing Grendel from a different point of view or wondered what his motivations in Beowulf to kill so many people were? In the epic poem Beowulf, Grendel is described by the author as an evil and cruel creature that has a strong desire for man?s blood. However, we get a very different characterization of the same character in the novel Grendel by John Gardner. In this book, Grendel is illustrated as the only character that thinks and reasons clearly. Therefore, readers get a very different perspective of Grendel in the two texts.
This is mainly done, since the author is looking forward to expressing his personal opinion and different ideas and themes that includes the humans?s tendency to judge from the beginning, the violence of men, and the fact that humans are dumb and easy to trick. In the epic poem Beowulf, Grendel is portrayed as a horrible monster that is powerful and malevolent. The author shows he is a cruel monster by explaining how he has tormented the Danes for nine consecutive winters. Grendel is never tired of killing people and has an incontrollable blood lust.
That?s why the author chooses to describe this monster in the novel as the “bane of the race of men” (p. 49) or the “God-cursed monster” (p. 49). Grendel is thus one of the antagonists in Beowulf and is willing to do anything to destroy the human race. Grendel is also described as a powerful monster in the poem. In the beginning of the poem, the author states that every Danish would secure his house at night fearing the possibility that Grendel would appear and kill him or her.
The fact that nobody was able to defend Daneland from Grendel before Beowulf demonstrates that Grendel was not as mighty as the epic hero, but still strong enough to kill a huge part of a community. All these characterizations given to Grendel help in the creation of an epic hero that shows the values and ideas of the Anglo-Saxons. As the evil monster is the antagonist of the poem, there needs to be a stronger hero that is able to defeat the monster in a battle. This is the case of Beowulf, a mighty warrior that looks for fame and is proud of his own actions.
He represents clearly the values of the Anglo-Saxons, as he kills Grendel mainly due to the fact that he will become more famous and will receive gold. He also demonstrates their ideas, since he is not much of a thinker, but instead acts without deep reflection. This can be proved by his fight with the Dragon, where he decided to battle alone knowing he can actually die. The last value Grendel aids to show in the poem is the obvious line between good and evil. As the monster is clearly presented as the cruel creature, he represents evil, while Beowulf, on the other hand, symbolizes good.
In conclusion, we can observe that the author?s intention in this novel is evidently to depict Grendel as the character in the dark side. The characterization of Grendel is very different in the novel Grendel from the one in Beowulf, where Grendel is described as an outcast who is peaceful, intelligent, lonely, and sad. In this novel, Grendel?s goal is to socialize with people and be treated as one of them. This contrasts the violent and dangerous Grendel in Beowulf. In this version of the character, Grendel is also intelligent.
He is not an irrational and unreasonable monster that is only thinking of eating people, like in the epic poem, but instead, he is an intellectual thinker who considers every event from a deeper point. Also, he is the only one that realizes Hrothgar and the Shaper are changing the men?s minds. This shows that he is the only one in Daneland that thinks clearly and is not tricked by a charismatic poet. Grendel is also sad and lonely in Grendel. In Beowulf, the author doesn?t show any of Grendel?s emotions, because he is considered to be a creature that doesn?t think.
However, in Gardner?s novel, he is able to feel and is sad, since he is lonely and doesn’t have anyone to interact with. This shows his feelings and why he is so desperate to fit into the human community. To sum up, Grendel in Gardner?s novel is very different and is seen as like the only one representing good in the story. John Gardner chooses to present a different version of Grendel to show various ideas and themes which includes demonstrating men?s violence and that they tend to criticize from first impressions.
The most important idea that he wants to show by writing this book is that we, humans, judge others from what our eyes see when we don?t even know how they really are. Gardner shows this in his novel when the people in the mead-hall attack Grendel. His intention was to socialize with them and start a conversation, but when the humans see him, their first thought is that Grendel is a dangerous creature. This proves that humans tend to judge others based on their first impressions and are not willing to discover their real feelings and personalities.
Another theme that Gardner wants the readers to see is that humans are violent by nature. As people consider Grendel an evil monster, their first action is to attack him. They throw spears to him and were going to kill him if Grendel didn?t escape. The fact that people are aggressive is also shown by the author when Grendel finds a dead corpse in the forest. He assumes correctly that the death was caused by the human?s violence. Gardner shows that some people are also easy to trick.
He demonstrates that all of the Danes are fooled by the Shaper?s songs and that Grendel is the only one that is able to see the lies. In summary, Gardner makes a different version of Grendel to show some of his ideas and to demonstrate some of our human flaws. In conclusion, readers are given a perspective of Grendel from the author in Beowulf that describes him as a terrible and illogical monster that looks forward to killing people and will do anything to get what he wants.
In Gardner?s novel Grendel, Grendel is more intelligent that most of the Danes, he is peaceful, and socializing with people is his main objective. This different characterization is made by Gardner in order to show readers some different ideas that we don?t consider after reading Beowulf. He shows that humans judge from their first impression, that we are violent and that most of us are easy to trick. Overall, we get two very different characterizations of the same character from two different authors that want to show various ideas and themes.