In the novels Beowulf, translated by Benton Raffel and Grendel by John Gardner, there is a character that is vividly portrayed. This character is the monster Grendel, a non-human being portrayed in two separate ways. The Anglo-Saxon’s view Grendel as evil; there’s no arguing that point. However, when the reader sees the story portrayed through Grendel’s perspective he starts to empathize with Grendel rather than fear him. In the beginning of BeowulfGrendel is presented as “a fiend out of hell . . . haunting the marshes, marauding round the heath and the desolate fens. . .” (B ).
Grendel is an evil monster from hell. However, in the novel Grendel the reader sees Grendel trying to befriend the humans and even talk to them “‘Mercy! Peace!’ The harper broke off, the people screamed” ( G).
Grendel tries to be nice to them, but because of his appearance and size the people automatically fear him and try to hurt him. They are taught to be fearful of all things associated with hell, so just because Grendel is of Cain’s clan they shun him and automatically label him as evil. This in turn makes him upset and lash out against others in his desperation.
One of the most over looked aspects of Grendel in Beowulf is that he has feelings, “It harrowed him to hear the din of the loud banquet every day in the hall . . .” ( B).
... the conflict between good and evil. In Grendel, the humans and the dragon are portrayed as the antagonists while Grendel is the protagonist of ... final source of evil in the novel is not human, but instead is the dragon that Grendel ... , Grendel observes Unferth as having "eyes like a couple of fangs" (140). Once again, Unferth is portrayed as a source of evil. The ...
Grendel was distressed and upset by the music of the hall, and therefore, capable of having feelings. However, throughout the rest of the novel, Grendel is characterized as being inhuman and having no feelings, which shows that the Anglo-Saxons contradict themselves. It is blatantly obvious in Grendel that Grendel has many feelings. He greatly wants to be accepted by the people of Hrothgar’s kingdom, but because the people label him as evil, he is turned against himself and lashes out. All that Grendel wants is someone to talk to, “Why can’t I have someone to talk to?” (G).
Grendel is desperately searching for acceptance and love, and he just does not understand why he can not be loved and why the people do not accept him.
Even after Grendel goes to the Dragon and talks to him about humans and is told that humans are insignificant idiots who have not the slightest idea what they are talking about, he still has no intentions of killing the Thanes, “For all the dragon’s talk, I had no intention of terrifying Hrothgar’s thanes for nothing” ( G).
Nonetheless, in Beowulf one can see the Thanes as automatically portraying him as evil, “. . . for one night later merciless Grendel struck again with more gruesome murders. Malignant by nature, he never showed remorse” (B ).
Although it’s obvious Grendel has no intentions of hurting the Thanes, they label him and hurt him and have no remorse or feelings except negativity for him. In the end, this is what leads him to his killings and his death.
In Beowulf, the fight between Grendel and Beowulf is told as a basic demonstration of good winning over evil. This is seen through the Anglo-Saxons feelings about the killing of Grendel, “His days were numbered, the end of his life was coming over him, he knew it for certain; and one bloody clash had fulfilled the dearest wishes of the Danes” ( B).
However, after Grendel fights Beowulf a person can see how Grendel feels about the whole situation, “I will fall. I seem to desire to fall, and though I fight it with all my will I know in advance that I can’t win. Standing baffled, quaking with fear, three feet from the edge of a nightmare cliff, down, into bottomless blackness, feeling the dark power moving in me like an ocean current . . .” (G ).
... be a compassionate side of Grendel sowing itself because Grendel has feelings for Wealtheow so it would ... expressed towards Wealtheow and his determination in killing her, Grendel decides not to kill the queen ... . Sometimes he lets out his feelings of hatred when he talks of his secret love, Wealtheow. ... race condemned to a life of solitude. After hearing this Grendel finally makes that realization ...
Grendel does not die happy, happy that he has killed and happy that he ruined lives. He dies alone, scared, and confused; the way he felt throughout his life. Again, even though he grew to love to kill like it was a new passion for him, he still just needed joy in his life. That is all that he was searching for, and attacking and killing was the only thing that he could find that would bring him a sense of joy even though it was a false one. Grendel is just a poor lost soul trying to find his place in life, and the people that he so desperately tries to be with view him as
“Spurned and joyless, he journeyed on ahead and arrived at the bawn. The iron-braced door turned on its hinge when his hands touched it. Then his rage boiled over, he ripped open the mouth of the building, maddening for blood, pacing the length of the patterned floor with his loathsome tread . . . And his glee was demonic, picturing the mayhem: before morning he would rip life from limb and devour them, feed on their flesh. . .” (B).
Throughout the novel the reader realizes that all Grendel wanted was a friend. He wanted someone to treat him like he was a normal person who had feelings and ideas and not to be outcast by society just because of his forefathers. Grendel was not necessarily born malicious but was perceived that way and therefore became that way, when he was not received as a normal being, as he would have liked. For that reason, the reader realizes Grendel dies a miserable, lonely child at heart who just wanted to be loved. He was not an evil demon; he was not a killer; he was an outcast looking for the sense of belonging that he never received.