Monsters in Literature Essay

Monsters in Literature Essay

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Monsters run free in epic poems of centuries far past; horrific, villainous creatures of fantasy who illustrate all that is bad in the world and stand for the tribulations the epic hero much overcome. The Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf is no different. Some are born of, and in turn give birth to legends, such as the fire-breathing dragon, while others are tied to the bible. In studies, Beowulf's monsters are explained and will continue to be analyzed as symbolic of countless different ideas. In relation to each other and the epic's hero, the monsters of Beowulf represent the ever-present flaws of humanity and the monstrous feelings or behaviors that over take the mind in a moment of weakness, leading to eventual downfall.
Like all monstrous creatures, Grendel is introduced as being unnatural, a demon, a “prowler through the dark” (86). As a demon, Grendel is of biblical origin, or perhaps was given the biblical genealogy of the House of Cain in a later christian re-adaptation of the “pagan” story. Being of the line of Cain, Grendel exhibits direct lineage in his mirroring of Cain's fatal downfall: jealousy. For having killed his own brother Abel out of pure jealous rage, Cain's clan was banished by the Creator, who “had outlawed /and condemned [his descendents] as outcasts” of society to reside only in the miserable company of other monsters (106-7). IN a world where the mead hall was the center of society and the source of both wealth and community, Grendel is left on the outskirts and unwelcome within the warm walls. For years, he lurked alone, hearing “the din of the loud banquet … in the hall” (88-9), pacing in the marshes night after night, forced to listen to the music, the stories, the laughter taunting him, until he ...


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... see before he dies, bidding Wiglaf to bring him his share, so he might feast his eyes one last time (2745-2750).
However, where as the monsters of the text are viewed as evil forces of man's downfall, Beowulf is honored in death. Perhaps instead of maintaining the christian influence of the soul being the sum of the actions and salvation being achievable through repentance alone, the anonymous writer aspires to the idea of a balance between the good and bad within a person. A pendulum of sorts swings betwixt the two, creating a belief system where, if one's goodness throughout their life outweighs their bad, they are good and honorable and free of the downfall of the monsters they have faced.


Works Cited

"Beowulf." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt and M. H. Abrams. 8th ed. Vol. 1. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. 34-100. Print.

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Monsters in Literature Essay

- Monsters run free in epic poems of centuries far past; horrific, villainous creatures of fantasy who illustrate all that is bad in the world and stand for the tribulations the epic hero much overcome. The Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf is no different. Some are born of, and in turn give birth to legends, such as the fire-breathing dragon, while others are tied to the bible. In studies, Beowulf's monsters are explained and will continue to be analyzed as symbolic of countless different ideas. In relation to each other and the epic's hero, the monsters of Beowulf represent the ever-present flaws of humanity and the monstrous feelings or behaviors that over take the mind in a moment of weakness, lead...   [tags: Beowulf, Grendel, Evil]

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