Contrasting the brothers had never lived, nor

Contrasting points of view in Grendel
and Beowulf significantly alter the readers perception of religion, good and
evil, and the character Grendel. John Gardners book, Grendel, is written in
first person. The book translated by Burton Raffel, Beowulf, is written in third
person. Good and evil is one of the main conflicts in the poem Beowulf. How
is Grendel affected by the concepts of good and evil? Grendel is an alienated
individual who just wants to be a part of something. His desire to fit in causes
him to do evil things. Grendel is fascinated by the Shapers poetry. He often
returns to the mead hall to listen to it. One night while he is listening, he hears
the story of Cain and Abel, including the Danes explanation of Grendel. His
reaction to this leads to one of his most dramatic emotional reactions: I
believed him. Such was the power of the Shapers harp! Stood wriggling my
face, letting tears down my nose, grinding my fists into my elbow the corpse of
the proof that both of us ere cursed, or neither, that the brothers had never
lived, nor the god who judged them. Waaa! I bawled. Oh what a
conversion(Gardner 51)! Grendel then cries for mercy from the Danes. He
wants their forgiveness as well as unification with them, which represents the
good in him. The Danes reject him by confusing his outburst of sorrow as an
attack. After visiting with a dragon who tells Grendel a fictional version of the
Shapers tale, Grendel continues to believe the Shapers story. He searches
for the goodness in human beings, which was mentioned in the story. He eats
people only because it provides a place for him in society, even if it is a
negative position (The Two Faces of Grendel, 2). Good and evil is one of the
main conflicts in the poem Beowulf, and ultimately both wipe each other out.

Good, is portrayed by God, and evil seems to be what fate has in store for the
hero. Beowulf occasionally talks to God and asks God to give him strength
before the battle and to give him the valor he needs to overcome his enemy.

Evil seems to always get the bad side of things since it always gets conquered
by Gods good side. Even though this is true, evil lives the high life for a long
time. Grendel, Beowulfs first opponent, killed thousands and thousands of
men before he met his match. Evil comes from the monsters. They attack the
good side by killing innocent men because they are hungry or just want to defy
the laws. Good fights back when the evil creations are killed and all is back to
normal. Beowulf is truly good because he helps people when they need it the
most and hopes that God is with him even though he doesnt have to do
anything to help the people who have an evil creature killing their villages
population every night. In Grendel, the main belief is that of existentialism,
however, there are also numerous references to Cain throughout the entire
book. The basis for his version of existentialism is the following excerpt from
the book itself: I understood that the world was nothing: a mechanical chaos
of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly impose our hopes and fears. I
understood that, finally and absolutely, I alone exist. All the rest, I saw, is
merely what pushes me, or what I push against, blindlyas blindly as all that
is not myself pushes back. I create the whole universe, blink by blink.An
ugly god pitifully dying in a tree (Gardner 22)! One can explain this view of
existentialism by considering some simple concepts of existentialism.

Existentialists believe that man is forlorn and totally responsible for his acts,
and that his choices are important because existence precedes essence.

Furthermore, the references to Cain, which represented chaos and the
presence of evil, can be found throughout the book. For example, after Cain
killed his brother, he drinks his blood. This is typically something that Grendel
does after he kills his victims. Additionally, both Cain and Grendel are viewed
as outcasts of society who have to roam in the shadows. They are outside
looking inside. They are outside threats to the order of society as shown by
Grendel with the Danes (Similarities between Grendel and Cain, 1). The
religious references to Cain, as well as the belief in existentialism are important
aspects in Grendel. In Beowulf, the main belief is that of wyrd, or fate, and
sources say that Beowulf is a pagan poem adapted to fit ideals of Christianity.

The belief in wyrd is one of the most pervasive pagan elements. The
Anglo-Saxons believed strongly that their lives were predestined and that
powerful supernatural forces acted upon them. The inevitability of this fate is
shown many times throughout the poem. When Beowulf prepares to fight
Grendel, he abandons his armor and sword saying, Fate ever goes as it
must. Additionally, although there are Christian overtones, the paganistic
point of views are expressed anytime they discuss fate and destiny. For
example, Beowulf makes a remark to Wiglaf that fate has swept their race
away. But right above that, he tells Wiglaf, I thank our Father in Heaven,
Ruler of the Earth-For all of this, that His grace has given me(Gardner
109). The epic poem Beowulf contains definite references to Christianity, but
it is also full of Pagan symbols such as that of fate. The character Grendel is
viewed in a different light in the book Grendel. Grendel is pitiful in Grendel,
however, Gardner uses this pity to arouse sympathy for Grendel by giving him
human traits and emotions and by using first person. This novel is actually
narrated by Grendel, which offers understanding of the beasts innermost
feelings, as well as evoking sympathy from the reader. In Grendel, the antihero
has human traits: he walks on two legs and speaks a language similar to the
Danes. He also has strong emotions of fear, anger, and sorrow as well as
intellect. One may compare Grendel to Lennie in Of Mice and Men. Both
characters have a sense of alienation and just want to fit in. The point of view
of the book Grendel allows the reader to see another side of Grendel. In
Beowulf, Grendel is viewed as the antagonist and the evil villain. Grendel is
both feared and hated in Beowulf. Upon reading Beowulf, the reader
discovers Grendel as seen through the eyes of his terrified victims. King
Hrothgar, leader of the Danes, fears his visits: The renowned ruler, the prince
of long famous, sat empty of joy; strong in might, he suffered, sorrowed for his
men when they saw the track of the hateful monster, the evil spirit. Hrothgar
would dread the fatal nights when Grendel would dine on human flesh. The
ruler understands that Grendel attacks his men out of spite and jealousy (The
Two Faces of Grendel, 1). In reading Grendel and Beowulf, one can find
many similarities in the way the events occur in the books, however because
of contrasting points of view, the reader gets insight on the entire picture from
two different sides. This allows the reader to better understand each book and
its contents, such as their beliefs and the concept of good and evil, and
acknowledge the ways the character Grendel can be described.
Book Reports

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