Morality In John Gardner's Grendel: Good And Evil

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A being cursed for evil goes through life looking for meaning. How can a monster of biblically banished descent be challenged with ideas of morality. In John Gardner’s postmodern novel Grendel, Grendel, explores and speculates on the meaning of life, humanity, and existence while being cursed to life as a monster. Due to his own bleak existence and the observations he has made of mean, Grendel views life as meaningless. Even though he is a descendent of Cain, the distinction between good and evil is blurred in Grendel’s perspective. How can a monster view morality when he is the wicked one yet he watches humans kill each other for bloodshed? Grendel is trying to make sense of an absurd world while the different theories shape his own identity.…show more content…
Grendel is alone with only his mute mother for companionship. He is not accepted by the humans and has no real place of belonging outside of his hellish lake cave. Grendel views the human to try to find identity for himself. Grendel is not alone physically and emotionally. Psychologically Grendel develops a philosophical belief that he is alone is existence. This is illustrated when Grendel says “I understood that the world was nothing: a mechanical chaos of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly impose our hopes and fears. I understood that, finally and absolutely, I alone exist.” (Gardner 21). Grendel’s isolation changes his outlook on life. To Grendel, he is the only one existing in a meaningless…show more content…
The Shaper, a harp-playing bard, tells righteous tales about Hrothgar, the ruler, and his society. The Shaper lies and spins a web of exaggerations that romanticize the violence that has given Hrothgar his power. Grendel witnessed the fighting himself and knew what the Shaper was saying was untrue. However, Grendel cannot help himself but falling for the optimistically distorted reality of the Shaper. Throughout time and across the world, figures similar to the Shaper work to twist the truth into a favorable picture. The human perspective can often be easily controlled. This shows the fragility of independence and humanity. In response to the Shaper, Grendel says I too crept away, my mind aswim in ringing phrases, magnificent, golden, and all of them, incredibly, lies" (Gardner 43), but he also says “I clamped my palms to my ears and stretched up my lips and shrieked again” (Gardner 45). The contrast between these responses to the Shaper show how Grendel is split. He is both charmed and repulsed by the lies. Both ways, the Shaper demonstrates to Grendel the artificiality of truth in this existence. This only furthers Grendel’s dissatisfaction towards

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