Essay on Similarities Between Beowulf And Grendel

Essay on Similarities Between Beowulf And Grendel

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Written sometime between 400-700 AD, Beowulf, the basis for the novel Grendel, was rooted in historical fact. When Gardner decided to write Grendel over 1200 years later, he kept some of these themes, twisted some, and omitted others. There are many characteristics of Anglo-Saxon culture exhibited by Gardner in Grendel, however due to the nihilistic view Grendel holds, they are sometimes warped.
One common theme throughout Beowulf and Grendel is the idea of wyrd, or fate. In Grendel, the dragon explains to Grendel the lack of free will in the world, saying everything is determined for you. The dragon 's nihilistic view of the world therefore influences Grendel, especially because the only creature to teach him any life lessons is in fact the dragon. The dragon goes on to explain, "My knowledge of the future does not cause the future. It merely sees it . . . if, say I interfere . . . then I do not change the future, I merely do what I saw from the beginning" (Gardner 63). If one says fate determines everything, then one can assume that nothing one does actually matters. Grendel himself just does what he wants, feeling as though whatever happens has already been decided. The dragon is the one thing he feels he can latch onto, and even then he really does not consciously choose to visit him. He says, "I would fall if I could, through time and space to the dragon. I cannot" (Gardner 137). Through much inner conflict, Grendel determines that his existence does not mean a thing, saying "Am I not free?-free as a bird? . . . I saw long ago the whole universe . . . and I glimpsed my place in it, a hole" (Gardner 158). Grendel does derive some bit of meaning (whether or not he wants to) from those who are great at their skill. They impact ...


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...t maybe Beowulf is not this great hero. It shows how Grendel feels the humans are petty, and ridiculous. By omitting comitatus and wergild the reader has a sense that maybe Beowulf is not very moral, and is not some great person. This however does not change the fact that Beowulf defeats Grendel, has superhuman strength, has noble blood in his veins, and has a great weapon. The addition of Beowulf possibly being a berserker lends to the fact that he is a great warrior.
Grendel 's nihilistic view of the world makes some elements of Anglo-Saxon culture appear warped, and others continue to shine through. Grendel and Beowulf are two different depictions of the same story. Due to the different point of views expressed in each, different characteristics are present in each. This however, does not diminish the importance of both the novel as well as that of the epic poem.

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