"People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive...." Joseph Campbell made this comment on the search for meaning common to every man's life. His statement implies that what we seem bent on finding is that higher spark for which we would all be willing to live or die; we look for some key equation through which we might tie all of the experiences of our life and feel the satisfaction of action toward a goal, rather than the emptiness which sometimes consumes the activities of our existence. He states, however, that we will never find some great pure meaning behind everything, because there is none. What there is to be found, however, is the life itself. We seek to find meaning so that emptiness will not pervade our every thought, our every deed, with the coldness of reality as the unemotional eye chooses to see it. Without color, without joy, without future, reality untouched by hope is an icy thing to view; we have no desire to see it that way. We forget, however, that the higher meaning might be found in existence itself. The joy of life and the experience of living are what make up true meaning, as the swirl of atoms guided by chaotic chance in which we find our existence has no meaning outside itself.
In John Gardner's novel, Grendel, the protagonist himself, Grendel the monster, loses sight of that joy in life when he forgets that it is the life itself for which he is living, not some outside force which governs his actions. In this slip, he dooms himself to a living death of machine-like actions culminating in his physical de...
... middle of paper ...
...life. In not seeking the connection between heart, mind, and soul, Grendel lives a disjointed life, fulfilling the prophecy of the dragon; all is meaningless, because it is meaningless to and through him. "Nihil ex nihilo, I always say."
Works Cited and Consulted:
Campbell, Joseph. The Power of Myth, New York: Doubleday, 1988.
Butts, Leonard. "The Monster as Artist: Grendel and Freddy's Book." The Novels of John Gardner. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1988. 86-110.
Gardner, John. Grendel. New York: Vintage Books, Random House Publishers 1989.
Klinkowitz, Jerome. "John Gardner's Grendel." John Gardner: Critical Perspectives. Ed. Robert A. Morace and Kathryn Van Spackeren. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1982. 62-67.
Merrill, Robert. "John Gardner's Grendel and the Interpretation of Modern Fables." American Literature 56.2 (1984): 162-180.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- T.S. Eliot, a poet, playwright, and literary critic, once stated, “People exercise an unconscious selection in being influenced.” Naturally, every experience people have and every person they meet leaves an impact on their lives. Whether positive or negative, outside influences can alter the way one thinks, acts, and even views the world. In John Gardner’s novel, Grendel, Grendel encounters numerous characters who play vital roles in the shaping and development of his overall persona. Though much of Grendel’s time was spent in his cave or spying in the woods, what minimal public contact he actually shared spurred major lasting impressions.... [tags: Life, Meaning of life, John Gardner]
1186 words (3.4 pages)
- John Gardner’s Grendel is the retelling of the heroic epic poem Beowulf; however, the viewpoint has shifted. Grendel is told from the viewpoint of one of Beowulf’s antagonists and the titular character of Gardner’s work—Grendel. In Grendel, Gardner humanizes Grendel by emphasizing parallels between Grendel’s life and human life. Through Gardner’s reflection of human feelings, human development, and human flaws in Grendel, this seemingly antagonistic, monstrous character becomes understood and made “human.” Grendel exhibits human feelings and characteristics in many ways.... [tags: Humanization, Grendel, John Gardner, ]
1051 words (3 pages)
- John Gardner's Grendel The archeologist's eyes combine the view of the telescope and the view of the microscope. He reconstructs the very distant with the help of the very small. - Thornton Wilder These words, uttered by Thornton Wilder regarding his play Our Town express the antithesis of nihilism, a philosophy which stresses the lack of objective truth. Nihilism, as well as existentialism and a host of other philosophies are boldly explored in Grendel, a novel by John Gardner.... [tags: Grendel Essays]
843 words (2.4 pages)
- As children, we were taught that good and evil were black and white terms. The fairy tales that our parents would read to us have conditioned us to believe that characters such as the princess in distress or the prince in shining armour were nothing but friendly and good, while the troll guarding his own bridge or the fire-breathing dragon were the most frighteningly evil creatures of all. However, as we grew up, we learned that these distinctions are never so easily black and white, but more-so different shades of grey.... [tags: Good and evil, God, Evil, Beowulf]
1054 words (3 pages)
- Grendel and the Importance of Human Values In Grendel, by John Gardner, there is considerable disquietude, but there are also moments of pleasure as well. The cause of these contrasting feelings is most often Grendel himself. As he changes from a purposeful and almost kind creature to a very cruel monster that scorns hope, we find ourselves feeling both pleased and upset at different times. In this element, though, lies a much greater purpose than simply good literature - it helps the reader understand the importance of human values.... [tags: Grendel Essays]
755 words (2.2 pages)
- According to Dictionary.com Sympathy can be defined as “the fact or power of sharing the feelings of another, esp. in sorrow or trouble; fellow feeling, compassion, or commiseration.” (dictionary.reference.com/browse/Sympathy) Pertinently this definition, as well as the information provided after reading both, The Poem Beowulf translated by Burton Raffel. and the novel Grendel by John Gardner, it appears evident that the character Grendel gains more sympathy from the reader than that of the character Beowulf.... [tags: Epic Poems, Grendel, Anglo-Saxon]
1077 words (3.1 pages)
- Grendal Throughout the novel Grendel by John Gardner, the main character Grendel is searching for answers about life, most importantly the meaning of life. He is confused with how he wants to view life and searches for some reason to why he exists. He turned too many for these answers; his mother, man, and the dragon, but no one could provide Grendel the answer he so desperately sought, all just pushed him to the idea of existentialism. Grendel’s first impression was to ask his mother about the meaning of life and what was his part in it.... [tags: essays papers]
839 words (2.4 pages)
- Influences on Grendel’s Life The epic poem Beowulf was the first ever poem wrote down on paper in English. In this poem Grendel has been attacking Hrothgars kingdom for 12 years. Every night Grendel goes to the mead hall and eats 30 men. Beowulf hears of the troubles and decides being the epic hero he is that he will take care of the problem himself. So he and 14 other men get on a ship and travel to where Grendel is. When he gets there he does not want to seem to Hrothgar that he thinks Hrothgar can’t handle the problem alone.... [tags: Classic English Literature]
1022 words (2.9 pages)
- A monster is a creature that deviates from normal or acceptable behavior; a threatening fore; something of unnatural deformity, malevolence, and cruelty. A hero, on the other hand, is one idealized for courage, bravery, and strength. While fusing the evermore different qualities of both would seem impossible, John Gardner’s Grendel does just that. Gardner creates an ambiguous character that possess aspects of both a monster and a hero – it is a force of evil, yet admired; it causes pain yet urges sympathy; and it is of irregular ugliness yet beloved.... [tags: monster, behavior, malevolence, hero]
1691 words (4.8 pages)
- Existentialism In Grendel The debate between existentialism and the rest of the world is a fierce, albeit recent one. Before the "dawn of science" and the Age Of Reason, it was universally accepted that there were such things as gods, right and wrong, and heroism. However, with the developing interest in science and the mechanization of the universe near the end of the Renaissance, the need for a God was essentially removed, and humankind was left to reconsider the origin of meaning. John Gardner’s intelligently written Grendel is a commentary on the merits and flaws of both types of worldview: the existentialist "meaning-free" universe, and the heroic universe, where every action is... [tags: essays papers]
1611 words (4.6 pages)