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Romanticism places a heavy focus on separation from society. In Gardner's novel, this romantic theme of isolation is echoed when Hrothgar's community rejects Grendel. Grendel, even before he discovers the humans, has always been in a sense alone. His mother is too inarticulate to be considered a truly fulfilling companion and the animals around him are too primitive to even communicate. The only creature that Grendel could ever truly bond with was the human race for they both shared the same language, and intellect. The humans, though, never embrace Grendel. The very first time Grendel attempts communicating with the humans, when he "staggered out into the open and up toward the hall...groaning out, 'Mercy !Peace!'"(51), results with him being nearly killed with spears, arrows, and swords. Humanity, his closest peer, rejects Grendel and forces the beast to live the rest of his life in isolation. But unlike in romanticism, in which isolation is viewed positively, Grendel's loneliness is shown to be more of a curse than as a boon. Grendel despises his loneliness and it turns him into a spiteful creature whose goal is to destroy Hrothgar. This dedication, fed by a hatred to his loneliness, results in Grendel's transition into an anti-hero. Rather than living peacefully in nature, Grendel chooses to be consumed by the romantic idea that society, specifically Hrothgar's society, is evil, corruptive, and destructive. For Grendel, he comes to the self-realization that he is, "Grendel, Ruiner of mead halls, Wrecker of Kings"(80), and it his duty and fate to kill and eat Hrothgar's citizens.
Isolation is not the only aspect of a romantic hero. Individualism and a person's ability to choose their own actions also play an important part. In Gardner's novel, Grendel acts on his own whim and does not follow the advice that others give him.
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