Archetypes in Grendel Essays

Archetypes in Grendel Essays

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Consistent in literature throughout every era and culture, archetypes represent a recurring image, pattern, or motif mirroring a typical human experience.  An idea developed by Carl Jung, archetypes in literature exist as representations reflecting vital perceptions of the human psyche expressing the manner in which individuals experience the world.  Using Jung’s concept, writers of all epochs embeds archetypes in structures, characters, and images of their narratives.  John Gardner, in his novel Grendel, integrates several of Jung’s archetypes into his epic tale derived from the early story Beowulf.  Gardner associates Jung’s personas of the outcast, the shadow, and the mentor-pupil relationship through the identities of Grendel, the narrator of events, and the dragon.

            The outcast, an identity relating to nearly every humanistic myth or story, represents the tragic creature Grendel. A giant beast with the intellectual equivalence of a human, Grendel lives nearly half his life before realizin...

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