Beowulf: Grendel is Pure Evil


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Grendel is the embodiment of all that is evil and dark. He is a descendant of Cain and like Cain is an outcast of society. He is doomed to roam in the shadows. He is always outside looking inside. He is an outside threat to the order of society and all that is good. His whole existence is grounded solely in the moral perversion to hate good simply because it is good.

He is described as a monster, demon, and a fiend. Grendel has swift, hard claws, and enormous teeth that snatch the life out of his victims, which are numerous. This “shadow of death” not only kills; he drinks the blood of his prey. His forefather, Cain, was also known for this fiendish act. Just as Grendel is an outcast, so Cain was cast out of the Garden of Eden. To the Anglo-Saxons, the worst crime a person could commit was the crime of fratricide, the killing of one’s own brother. Their society and culture was structured around themes of brotherhood and kinship. The mead Hall, Herot, was a symbol of peace. It was a place where warriors gathered in a spirit of brotherhood and harmony to celebrate. Grendel was jealous and enraged by the festivities and the sound of laughter that he kept hearing while he was alone in his mere.

Time after time he charges into Herot Hall, slaughtering the warriors like sheep, and feasting on them. Denmark trembles in fear and grief as Grendel terrorizes their land. The people live in fear for their family and friends. Grendel is the Anglo-Saxon embodiment of what is dark, terrifying, and threatening. Grendel is an enemy of God. He can not know God’s great love. He is a powerful ogre that resides in the dark, wet marshes. He is a shadow of death that grows impatient with the Danes. He delights in their slaughter. No crime or savage assault would quench his thirst for evil. For evil can never be quenched. Grendel is a shepherd of evil and a guardian of crime. Grendel exhibits his envy towards the warriors as Cain did to his brother. Jealousy breed loneliness.

Grendel is alone; he can not know God’s love and be comforted. He is an outcast, and the sins of his forefather have fallen upon him. Evil can not stand God being glorified just as the praising of God by the Danes angered Grendel.

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The saga between good and evil is an ongoing battle. Good and evil can not co-exist. We face it every day, but only through a personal relationship with God can we overcome evil and have true peace. “Beowulf” is a great epic depicting the forces of good and evil. It teaches us to stand and fight for what is morally right to face the monsters in our lives and win as Beowulf won by entering each battle with a prayer to God.


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