Grendel's Search For Meaning Essay

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Humans look for some key equation through which they might tie all of the experiences of life and feel the satisfaction of action toward a goal, rather than the emptiness of which sometimes consumes the activities of our existence. However, humans may never find some great pure meaning beyond their mundane existences, because there is none. What there is to be found, however, is the life itself. Humans seek to find meaning so that emptiness will not pervade every thought, every deed, with the coldness of reality as seen by an unemotional eye. Without color, without joy, without future, reality untouched by hope is nothing more than an empty void. Man’s search for meaning is depicted in John Gardner’s Grendel, as Grendel’s perspective and philosophy…show more content…
In the beginning Grendel’s perspective of himself leads to various encounters that help him discover the meaninglessness to his very own existence. From the beginning through many centuries of pondering Grendel has come to the idea that the world consists entirely of Grendel and not-Grendel. Thus Grendel begins his search for meaning of his very own life with an existential philosophy, the belief that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will. While Grendel’s overall perspective of nature is that of mindless and mechanical machine, he believes that he is a separate entity from this machine. Furthermore he holds the philosophy that he himself is a god like creature that “blink by blink” creates the world. This philosophy undermined when Grendel notices that events occur before he can think them into existence. Grendel witnesses the death of a deer by the hands of humans: “Suddenly time is a rush for the hart: head flicks, he jerks, his front legs buckling, and he’s dead. He lies as still as the snow hurtling outward around him to the hushed world’s rim. The image clings to my mind like a…show more content…
With the introduction of the Shaper, Grendel’s ideals are transformed by another’s words. The Shaper is able to show Grendel that he can have an identity and not just be a mere obstruction in the dark. The Shaper created his own theories and stories about life and fed them to the people in a way that enabled them to follow what he said as truth. The Shaper gave the Danes a purpose by telling them what great feats they had overcome and his words excited and encouraged the men to become even more magnificent. The more Grendel listens to the Shaper’s songs, the more apparent it is that Grendel is captivated by the Shaper’s perspective on life. The Shaper’s songs tore at Grendel because he wanted to believe in everything said, but felt ashamed to live his life believing in lies: “I listened, felt myself swept up. I knew very well that all he said was ridiculous, not light for their darkness but flattery, illusion, a vortex pulling them from sunlight to heat, a kind of midsummer burgeoning waltz to the sickle” (Gardner 47). Grendel wanted to believe in the Shaper and his theories but he knew that in the end they were all lies meant to deceive, to fool, and to ensnare the listener. It was the Shaper’s skill and imagination that stirred him, but as much as Grendel wanted to accept the Shaper’s tales, he knew they were not the truths he was looking
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