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Evil And Evil In Grendel

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Dictionary.com defines evil as “the wicked or immoral part of someone or something.” Within the novel, Grendel by John Gardner evil is inescapable as this topic is discussed throughout the novel. Though the story holds a resemblance to its inspiration of the epic Beowulf in its portrayal of Grendel, it fails to highlight the underlying evil within the Anglo-Saxon’s and their values. Gardner’s novel reveals that evil is everywhere as it is seen in not only Grendel's but also in human lives and is presented in a more complex way than the epic as both have their own dark sides.
In the epic, the idea of Anglo-Saxon values tended to frame everyone who was loyal to his king as noble and respectable, but after a few years of human observation, Grendel
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In both stories, Grendel became the murderous being that the humans made him out to be. When he first attacked the hall after his confusion over the actions of humans on behalf of Wealthow being forced to go with the tribe, he finally snapped saying, “I would kill her and teach them reality. Grendel the truth teacher, phantasm-tester! It was what I would be from this day forward—my commitments, my character as long as I lived—and nothing could change my mind”(Gardner 110). Once Grendel lost faith in humans, he was forced to kill as he was disappointed and disgusted by their actions. With the lies of the Shaper, their murderous ways, and flawed beliefs, he has turned too far away from goodness and believed the only way to fulfill his life is to kill the ones who confuse him. This showed the complexity of Grendel as in Beowulf, the attacks by Grendel were seen as pointless acts of violence and evil when in reality the humans had pushed him to this point. One main reason for his violence was his constant fight with his belief of human religion. He was constantly questioning why God made him an evil creature and tested humans and their belief through violence. He framed himself as a god and wanted to feel the same power when calling himself the truth-teacher and phantasm-tester in order to make sense of the lies of humans and tried to understand his own purpose and situation. By the end of the novel Grendel had become completely untrusting of the people and finally decided that his role in life is instead to kill and torment the Scyldings because as he became more existential, he realized that his actions would not have an effect on the outcome of the universe, so filled the void in his life with rage on the people of the Hrothgar’s meadhall. As he goes to fight Beowulf and the Geats in the hall, he seemed to have accepted his role as, “[Grendel] seized up a sleeping man, tear at him hungrily, bite through his
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