The Characters' Personalities in "Grendel" and "Beowulf"

1008 Words5 Pages
The book Grendel, written by John Gardner, and the poem Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, both have very distinct opinions on what role each character plays. The translator of Beowulf and the writer of Grendel follow the idea that everyone has a story. A story is the writer’s perspective on a character’s personality, the way people in the story see and treat the character, and the way it ties the ideas together. There are many examples in these two writings of this concept, but the main instances connect with the lives of Grendel, Beowulf, and Unferth. Our first character, Grendel, is an exceptionally diverse character. It is implied that in both book and poem, Grendel is a blood-thirsty monster. All Grendel does is go through meadhalls and kill the drunk, often asleep people. But when narrated through the eyes of Grendel, the true nature of this beast is discovered. The author of Grendel entails that Grendel is a depressed and misunderstood monster, restrained to the confinements of his own underwater cave. He is a lot like the monster in the book Frankenstein. Both Grendel and Frankenstein are born with no real purpose to life, going off of what they hear other people say and taking it as the truth. Both monsters, knowing that everyone detests them for being unattractive and different, retaliate by way of murder and mayhem. From the perspective of the people in the stories itself, Grendel is exactly how the narrator in the poem Beowulf makes him out to be. The people, or the thanes, of Hrothgar’s kingdom see Grendel as a demon from hell, representing all that’s evil in the world. He’s a supernatural creature and in this time period anything supernatural that wasn’t human was considered a spirit, a god, evil or, in Grendel... ... middle of paper ... ...her raids. In Grendel, it is shown that the people of the kingdom resent Beowulf, even though he’s ridding the town of evil he is making everyone look bad for doing it. It’s showing that the kingdom of Hrothgar isn’t strong enough to defeat Grendel and that they need help. The people of the kingdom don’t need this, and though they boast in Beowulf, they very much resent the fact that he has came over here to defend another country that’s not his own kingdom. It is the jealousy of Unfurth to Grendel, the hatred of Unfurth to Beowulf, and the conflict between Beowulf and Grendel that give the book Grendel and the poem Beowulf the theme that everyone has a story. All their differences tie the characters together and when things connect it creates a good balance in the story. The amount of tension that is caused by these characters creates the makings of a good story.
Open Document