Grendel Essay

Grendel Essay

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In 1971, American author John Gardner wrote Grendel. With a mastermind of creativity, John Gardner successfully retells the classic epic poem, Beowulf. He captures the reader by giving an interesting view of order and chaos, good and evil, hero and monster, allowing the monsters point of view to be seen.

On July 21, 1933 John Gardner was born in Batavia, New York. He was the son of a preacher and diary, and his mother taught English. They were very fond of Shakespeare and loved to recite literature. Gardner spent his early days attending school, playing French horn, and working on his dads farms. In April 1945, Gardner's brother was killed in an accident with a cultipacker on their family farm. Gardner was driving the tractor during the team of the accident. He took the guilt for his siblings death, and as a result he suffered from nightmares and flashbacks. Taken over by the guilt and self-hatred, he beings to perfect his playing of the French horn; he use the instrument as a blockade from the outside world, allowing him to withdraw from his family and other forms of company(Winter 13).This feeling of guilt will be transfer into his writing, such as in the short story "Redemption", which recounts the accident (Winter 13).

Gardner graduated from Batavia High school, and enrolled into DePauw University. He married Joan Louise Patterson in 1953, and went in to attend Washington University. After graduating from Washington University in 1955, he went on to attend the University of Iowa, where he studied medieval and Anglo-Saxon literature(Howell 1). After receiving his doctoral degree, Gardner spent a period of time teaching at Chicago State College, Oberlin College and San Francisco College(Howell 2)...


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...akes the reader have some compassion towards Grendel, makes it difficult to favor a particular character in the novel. Another theme of the novel is the confrontation order and chaos. Norma L. Hutman states, “Grendel see chaos in all that occurs and indeed insist on chaos as the ultimate principle. …Out of the untamed world monsters invade the tamed and symmetrical world of man, entering the mead hall to leave, together with death and destruction, their chaotic mark upon the ordered universe.” Grendel seems to view man as a maker of pattern. Stating, “They are thinking creatures, pattern makers” (Gardner 22). “They map out road through hell with their crackpot theories (Gardner 13). Through such changes, Gardner creates themes that appear in Grendel and much of his later work. He hungered readers with his writing, which as a result empowered him with success.

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