grendelbeo Epic of Beowulf Essay - The Evil of Grendel

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The Evil of Grendel in Beowulf

The story of Beowulf, written during Anglo-Saxon times, is a classic epic tale between good versus evil. It is a story that gives us insight into the values of the Anglo-Saxon people. The Anglo-Saxons glorified heroism and the conquering of evil. In the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, the character of Grendel symbolically represents evil through his setting and heritage, his hateful attitude toward men, and his vicious acts of murder.

Grendel's heritage and setting are two things that attribute to Grendel's evilness. In the story the author tells us that Grendel was a descendant of Cain(the son of Adam and Eve, who was cursed by God for killing his brother Abel). The poet writes, "Conceived by a pair of those monsters born of Cain"(line 42-43). The author makes the connection between the murderous Cain and the evil Grendel. Even Grendel's lair is a pit of slime and filth. "Grendel, who haunted the moors, the wild marshes, and made his home in a hell not hell but Earth. He was spawned in that slime"(lines 39-41). When the author uses lines like, "in a hell not hell but Earth"(line 40), it really helps to create this vivid image in your mind of this terrible lair that Grendel lives in. He not only lives in the swamp, but also thrives in the darkness of the night. "Out from the marsh, from the foot of misty hills and bogs, bearing God's hatred, Grendel came, ...He moved quickly through the cloudy night, ...his eyes gleamed in the darkness, burned with a gruesome light"(lines 363-367;378-380). The poet shows how Grendel travels in the darkness of the night. The night is used to symbolically represent evil. The poet's descriptions of Grendel's evil and dark enviro...

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...out legends, and that is why the story has survived through the ages. It tells us of a powerful, terribly evil monster. The descriptions of Grendel are so scary and evil that we can all draw our own vivid picture of him in our mind. This monster represents all of the evil in the world, and the hero of the story represents everything good in the world. The story has survived because it is a story about good versus evil. It is a story that we can relate to even now in modern times.


Clark, George. Beowulf. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990.

Fry, Donald K. "Introduction: The Artistry of Beowulf." In TheBeowulf Poet, edited by Donald K. fry. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Robinson, Fred C. "Grendel's Evil." In Beowulf - Modern Critical Interpretations, edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
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