Compare and Contrast Essay:
Background[ edit ] The basic plot derives from Beowulfa heroic poem of unknown authorship written in Old English and preserved in a manuscript dating from around AD The poem deals with the heroic exploits of the Geat warrior Beowulf, who battles three antagonists: GrendelGrendel's motherand, later in life, an unnamed dragon.
Gardner's retelling, however, presents the story from the existentialist view of Grendel, exploring the history of the characters before Beowulf arrives. Beowulf himself plays a relatively small role in the novel, but he is still the only human hero that can match and kill Grendel.
The dragon plays a minor part as an omniscient and bored character, whose wisdom is limited to telling Grendel "to seek out gold and sit on it";  his one action in the novel is to endow Grendel with the magic ability to withstand attacks by sword a quality Gardner found in the original.
What happened in Grendel was that I got the idea of presenting the Beowulf monster as Jean-Paul Sartre, and everything that Grendel says Sartre in one mood or another has said". In the opening scene, Grendel briefly fights with a ram when frustrated with its stupidity. He then mockingly asks the sky why animals lack sense and dignity; the sky does not reply, adding to his frustration.
Later, Grendel reminisces about his early experiences in life, beginning with his childhood days of exploring the caves inhabited by him, his mother and other creatures with which he is unable to speak. One day, however, he arrives at a pool filled with firesnakes, which he enters.
Upon exiting, he is greeted by moonlight. Exploring the mysterious outside world at greater length, he eventually becomes wedged and trapped in a tree.
Helpless, he cries for his mother, but only a bull appears, wounding him. The bull's unchanging, unrelenting manner of attack leads him to conclude that the whole of reality is tantamount to the animal's senseless efforts a nihilistic view. As he is able to evade its blows, he falls asleep, only to wake surrounded by humans.
The armored men, thinking that he is a tree spirittry to feed him.
Although Grendel can understand the humans, they cannot understand him and they become frightened, which leads to a fight between Grendel and the Danish warriors, including Hrothgar. Grendel is barely saved from death at the hands of the humans by the appearance of his mother.
The novel continues by elaborating on the colonization of the area by humans and their subsequent development from nomadic bands into complex civilizations with fine crafts, politics, and warfare.
Grendel witnesses Hrothgar become the foremost in power amongst the human factions. During Hrothgar's rise to prominence, a blind poet appears at the doors of Hart, whom Grendel calls "the Shaper".
The monster reacts violently to the power the beautiful myth has on him and flees, having seen the brutal rise of the Danes.
Grendel continues to be enraptured by the tales, as does Hrothgar, who begins a widespread campaign of philanthropy and justice. After seeing a corpse and two lovers juxtaposed, he drags the corpse to Hart, bursting into the hall and begging for mercy and peace. The thegns do not comprehend his actions and see this as an attack, driving him from the hall.
While fleeing the men, he curses them, yet still returns later to hear the rest of the Shaper's songs, half enraptured and half enraged. When Grendel returns to his cave, he attempts and fails to communicate with his mother, thus leaving him with a sense of total loneliness.Grendel study guide contains a biography of John Gardner, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
Grendel is a novel by American author John Gardner. It is a retelling of part of the Old English poem Beowulf from the perspective of the antagonist, Grendel.
. The Mask of a Hero in Beowulf and Grendel, a Book by John Gardner PAGES 4. WORDS View Full Essay. More essays like this: Not sure what I'd do without @Kibin Sign up to view the complete essay.
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Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. Good vs. Evil in John Gardner's Grendel Essay - Good vs. Evil in John Gardner's Grendel John Gardner's novel Grendel gives the reader a new perspective on the classic "good vs.
Evil" plot. From the start of the book the reader can tell that there is something very unique about the narrator. Grendel experiences a portent of Beowulf's arrival. That the hero's arrival in the future should be as "strange as spring" suggests Grendel's inability to comprehend the life-giving aspect of nature.
The gloom of autumn and death of winter are within Grendel's scope of understanding; spring, with its verdant vibrancy poses unanswerable questions.