Literary Criticism In 'Grendel' By John Gardner

1611 Words7 Pages
Bailey Heffernon
Mr. Strack
Grendel Literary Criticism Essay
20 November 2017

Throughout John Gardner’s Grendel, the audience bears witness to a creature who has been ostracized by the world around him. Throughout his journey, the stories protagonist tries to live out his own life the way he wants to, despite being labeled as evil by those around him. Due to this constant criticism by his peers, he develops an inferiority complex that he desperately tries to make up for as the story progresses. Throughout his development, Grendel very rapidly moves past his existentialist beginning, through a brief phase of forced skepticism, and into a severely nihilistic point of view. At the beginning of the novel, Grendel sees himself as someone who
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He doesn’t believe that he has done anything wrong, therefore he doesn’t believe that he is a bad person. In the novel Grendel, Grendel states that, “I saw, is merely what pushes me, or what I push against, blindly—as blindly as all that is not myself pushes back. I create the whole universe blink by blink… (Gardner, 22)”. This internal thought from Grendel at the beginning of his story shows his belief that he holds the power to choose his future and that he creates his own reality. He truly does believe that despite his killing nature and that he is not technically human, he can still live among them and rise above his original reputation. In his encounter with the dragon in chapter 5, Grendel is told that, "My knowledge of the future does not cause the future. It merely sees it” (Gardner 63). What the dragon says in this instance sticks with Grendel in the sense that even though he is drawing away from his existentialist views, he still knows that he controls himself. Him accepting this strikes as somewhat half existentialism and half nihilism due to the character arc taking place. In addition to the evidence of existentialism in the novel itself, there is also many instances within literary criticism that suggest Grendel’s

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