Beowulf And Grendel Essay, Research Paper
John Gardner’s Grendel gives the character Grendel a personality beyond what is described in the epic Beowulf. The descriptions in this reading outline the emotional characteristics of this creature. The work Grendel fulfills its goal of making Grendel seem more human; however, it falls short of one accomplishment. Regardless of the positive description in the text, Grendel’s actions against society, which he committed in the work Beowulf, are certainly not justified.
Grendel is decisively evil in the work Beowulf. He is solely described as a bloodthirsty murderer. “He slipped through the door and there in the silence snatched up thirty men, smashed them unknowingly in their beds and ran out with their bodies, the blood dripping behind him, back to his lair, delighted with his night’s slaughter” (Beowulf 14). This is one of numerous examples of his savage killings, which he delights in. He lives only to kill and destroy the lives of those who still live. He brings complete terror to those who meet him, and fear to all others. “Then he stopped, seeing the hall crowded with sleeping warriors, stuffed with rows of soldiers resting together. And his heart laughed, he relinquished the sight, intended to tear the life from those bodies” (Beowulf 23). Grendel does nothing but cause death and destruction. He is pure evil.
Gardner’s Grendel clearly does not justify these ferocious killings. In fact, this novel mentions that Grendel finds his barbarous war against humanity pointless and foolish. ” the season is upon us. And so begins the twelfth year of my idiotic war. The pain of it! The Stupidity!” (Gardner 5). Grendel has no desire to kill the people. He does not seem to have a reason for killing them either. Sometimes, people will act on an impulse and do things they do not really want to do. However, they always have some sort of reason to defend themselves. “Pointless, ridiculous monster crouched in the shadows, stinking of dead men, murdered children, martyred cows. (I am neither proud nor ashamed, understand. One more dull victim, leering at seasons that never were meant to be observed)” (Gardner 6). Grendel does not even feel a sense of accomplishment for his amoral actions. These senseless tragedies were caused for no reason. An act cannot be justified if one has no purpose.
Grendel is an intelligent being. In the following passages, he contrasts himself to other creatures: “But deer, like rabbits and bears and even men, can make, concerning my race, no delicate distinctions” (Gardner 8). He feels no connection to the other animals because he is too advanced for them. However, he continues to show his similarities to men throughout the story. He acknowledges this by his conclusion to his first comment. “Except men, of course” (Gardner 8). If Grendel feels that he is similar to humans, he should not want to hurt them.
Gardner does not justify Grendel’s murderous nature in these selections from his novel Grendel. Perhaps if the monster had intent when he killed, his actions would have been more justifiable. Under these circumstances, Grendel had no purpose for his actions, and cannot be deemed guiltless for his crimes.