Beowulf And The Epic Hero Essay examples

1196 Words Oct 18th, 2015 5 Pages
Beowulf and a Beast: The Epic Hero in Beowulf and Grendel “Ah, ah, it must be a terrible burden, though, being a hero-glory reaper, harvester of monsters!” Grendel proclaimed (Gardner 84). From this quote, Gardner certainly does not seem to have much reverence for the epic hero. On the surface, this appears to be just one of the many differences between John Gardner’s Grendel and Beowulf, the sixth century epic poem that inspired Gardner’s novel. Beowulf, the namesake and protagonist of the epic, wins ubiquitous admiration as a glorious warrior and noble leader. As depicted in the original poem, Beowulf is indubitably the paragon of the epic hero. In Grendel, on the other hand, Gardner initially appears to challenge the basis of the archetypal epic hero. However, by the end of the novel, Gardner presents Beowulf as angelic, almost god-like. Although initially seeming to cast a derogatory light on the ideal hero, through the satirical narration of Grendel, Gardner ultimately perpetuates the archetype through a selective preservation of elements of Anglo-Saxon culture, an unforeseen portrayal of Beowulf, and an augmentation of Grendel’s status as a hero.
From the onset of the novel, Gardner uses a combination of characters and situations that suggest the rejection of the epic hero. One of the most distinct examples of this can be seen as Grendel consults with the dragon, who states, “In a billion billion billion years, everything will have come and gone several times, in…

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