The first opponent Beowulf must face in the land of the Danes is Grendel, textually described as “a fiend out of hell … [a] grim demon / haunting the marches, / marauding round the heath / and the desolate fens” (Beowulf, line 100 – 104). The author also provides us with a moral description, explaining how Grendel is “merciless … malignant by nature, he never showed remorse” (line 135-137). As we can see here, the author’s physical and moral portrayal of Grendel is rather unforgiving. We also resent Grendel further once we learn that he has wreaked havoc upon the Heorot hall for twelve years, “inflicting constant cruelties on the people / atrocious hurt” (line 165).
One may wonder ...
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...ts treasure, almost an obsession,” then can one really blame am animal acting through instinct and purpose? While destructive, it was indeed the greed and ignorance of man that brought the wrath of the dragon upon Geatland. “The intruder who broached the dragon’s treasure / and moved him to wrath had never meant to” (line 2215). “each antagonist struck terror in the other” (line 2565).
While the monsters of the poem are the antagonists of the poem, the author still manages to make the reader feel traces of sympathy for them. Grendel’s human depiction, exile and misery tugs at the heart of readers and indeed shows a genuine side to the figure, while Grendel’s mother and the dragon are sympathetic mainly because they were provoked into being attacked over things they both had a deep affection for. Their actions make us question whether they are as evil as they seem.
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