Beowulf Essays: The Joy Of Grendel

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The Joy of Grendel
“Is it joy feel?”(Gardner 173). These were the some of the last words uttered by Grendel before his demise. Why does Grendel feel this joy? Grendel had suffered inwardly all his life. Why is at this time, when Grendel is defeated Beowulf, does he feel joy? Perhaps, Grendel is feeling joy because this was the end of his struggle the two beliefs he encounters in the novel. At Grendel’s death, he has a revelation that he should have had while he was still living. In the poem, Beowulf, he dies because of fate while in the novel, Grendel, he dies because of an accident. However, Grendel realized at his death that his only “accident” was trying to fully conform to the fate presented in Beowulf and the mechanistic world
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The reason why the Anglo-Saxons have a disdain for Grendel is because of his lineage. Grendel is a descendant of Cain. After Cain slayed his brother, Abel, God cursed him. According to the Anglo-Saxons, Grendel was in Cain’s lineage. That is why Grendel hated the God that he did not believe in. Yet, despite Grendel’s defiance against the Shaper and the Anglo-Saxon beliefs, he actually longs to be with the community. Grendel confesses, “Yet he, the old Shaper, might make it true, by the sweetness of his harp, his cunning trickery. It came to me with a fierce jolt that I wanted it. As they did too, though vicious animals, cunning, cracked with theories. I wanted it, yes! Even if I must be the outcast, cursed by the rules of his hideous fable” (Gardner 55). Their beliefs gave them meaning and happiness, which is what Grendel desires yet at the same time contradicts what Grendel believes about meaning. Because he regards them as liars, Grendel continues to reject the Shaper and the Anglo-Saxons and believe that the world was meaningless and mechanistic. Grendel makes himself believe that his purpose is to kill. He declares, “I was Grendel, Ruiner of Meadhalls, Wrecker of Kings!”(Gardner 80). Nevertheless, this new encouragement that Grendel develops is short-lived because of two …show more content…
Grendel must have understood that both the dragon and the Anglo-Saxons believed in a mechanistic world. What Grendel wanted was purpose. The dragon says Grendel’s purpose is to be the “brute existent by which they learn to define themselves” (Gardner 73), which is the human eating monster. He wants Grendel to pursue his selfish gains. After all, because the world is mechanistic, Grendel can’t choose any differently. The Anglo-Saxons believe his purpose is to kill and ultimately be destroyed. At the end, Grendel succumbs to his alleged purpose. However, who gives Grendel the purpose that he fulfills. Is it the higher power in the world of Beowulf and Grendel? Is it Grendel himself? Or is it the Anglo-Saxons along with the dragon? This question is very difficult to answer. If the dragon is correct, that means Grendel fulfilled the purpose that Grendel set for himself. The reason why the Anglo-Saxons treat Grendel the way they do would be because of the meaning that Grendel gives them. If the Anglo-Saxons are right, that means Grendel fulfilled his purpose of being an enemy of God that will be destroyed. Back in chapter 2 of Grendel, Grendel makes it evident that he believes that he only exists. However, even as Grendel believes this, his meaning continues to be derived from the world around him. So ultimately when he dies, he fulfills the purposes set by the

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