Character Influences In Grendel, By John Gardner

1142 Words 5 Pages
Why is it that the influences of others affect characters – and real-life people – as much as they do? In the novel Grendel, by John Gardner, there are four specific characters that had a visibly large effect on Grendel. Of course, every character in the book had some sort of influence on Grendel. In addition, it is clear that his character traits evolved from the beginning of the story to the end. The dragon, Hrothgar, the Shaper, and Beowulf all had a profound effect on Grendel, and they all contributed to the devolution of the character throughout the story. The first influences are the characters that had a negative effect on Grendel. Those characters are the dragon and Hrothgar, but they each have their own reasons. First, the dragon …show more content…
Those characters are the Shaper and Beowulf. The Shaper had an affirmative impact on Grendel because he made Grendel question everything that he had learned from the dragon. Every time Grendel heard the music of the Shaper, he would almost be under a spell. The music that the Shaper played made life seem hopeful; as a result, Grendel would begin to believe that life was worthy of his time whenever he would hear the Shaper play, which was relatively often. The Shaper was somewhat the opposite of the dragon, because although he and Grendel never spoke in person, he gave him ideas that life was not as bad as the dragon made it seem. Also, the Shaper made Grendel experience profound feelings, which was something that the dragon could never do. This is made obvious after Grendel hears the Shaper for the first time, and he states, “I was so filled with sorrow and tenderness I could hardly have found it in my heart to snatch a pig” (Gardner 44)! Beowulf had a positive stimulus on Grendel, as well. This could be debated, but by the time Beowulf came to defeat Grendel, the latter had a very high opinion of himself. He seemed to believe that he was invincible, and that no thing, especially no human, could ever take him down. When Beowulf came to fight him, Grendel had no idea that any human could be as strong as Beowulf was. Gardner shows that Grendel’s mind has changed when he …show more content…
Since the arrivals of the characters are pretty spread out between negative and positive, Grendel has his ups and downs. At the very beginning of the story, Grendel seems to be a decent character, and it does not seem like he is really out to get anyone. This is especially true when he is a child; he discusses the games he used to play when he was young. One of those games led to Grendel getting caught in the tree (Gardner 18). Then Hrothgar comes in, and the monster’s character somewhat devolves, because he begins to hate the king. The next arrival is that of the Shaper, and that brings a positive influence into the story; therefore, Grendel’s character evolves some. After the Shaper shows up, the dragon comes into Grendel’s life. The dragon was one of the worst influences on Grendel, and so after their meeting, Grendel’s character definitely devolved. Beowulf finally comes in at the end of the story, however, and causes Grendel to evolve, but then he ends up dying right after his character improves slightly. Clearly, Grendel has his triumphs and trials in the story, but as a whole, he devolves. Grendel is definitely a dynamic character. When reading the story, it is apparent that there are some major character changes. Towards the beginning of the story, Grendel seems to still be a little naïve, and he seems to think that the world as a whole is not a bad place to live. However, as the

Related Documents