When the hero is unaware of their status, they make rash decisions affecting the society they are shaping. This time period, in a sense, is the beginning of Joseph Campbell’s quest cycle, before the inciting incident. While the humans scrutinize Grendel, he identifies their abilities and the depth of their thinking. He studies them as well, discovering that, “Suddenly I knew I was dealing with no dull mechanical bull but with thinking creatures, pattern makers, the most dangerous things I’d ever met”(Gardner 27). Before this encounter he had never met another creature that could speak a language like his own, and the implications of other intelligent life is intriguing to him. This sparks an interest in their society and how they function in groups while he has always survived with only one other. When Grendel first met the humans, Hrothgar was their leader, and a successfu...
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...agon battle to tie up the cycle. During his fight with Grendel, he points out his purpose: “Though you murder the world, turn plains to stone, transmogrify life into I and it, strong searching roots will crack your cave and rain will cleanse it: The world will burn green, sperm build again”(170). Grendel’s reign over Hrothgar comes to a close, with a promise from Beowulf to undo the damage caused and begin a new society.
Though a hero changes a culture in a positive way, they become irrelevant due to lack of purpose because of the new society’s needs for change that they can’t provide. Though there can be gray area when defining the difference between a villain and a hero, a hero is always defined by a bias perspective. Just as a little child’s hero beats up baddies in a black ally, Grendel beats up the heroes until they become strong enough to stand for themselves.
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