The Epic Hero In Beowulf And Gren

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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 …show more content…
The moment Beowulf sets foot on Danish shores, Grendel notices Beowulf’s superhuman strength, as he stares at his “grotesquely muscled shoulders-stooped, naked despite the cold, sleek as the belly of a shark and as rippled with power as the shoulders of a horse” (Gardner 155). As Beowulf and Unferth exchange boasts at the Geats’ first arrival to Hart, Beowulf displays great wit and intelligence, as characteristic of the epic hero. In fact, Beowulf’s “mild, coolly murderous tongue,” resonating through the hall, even succeeded to mesmerize Grendel, as the monster describes the Geat’s mouth as moving independent of his words (Gardner 163). At this point, Grendel seems to perceive Beowulf as an ethereal, god-like figure. Gardner further portrays Beowulf as an epic hero, as Wealtheow she feels she has finally found a man she can trust. However, Beowulf, demonstrating an awareness of his mortality, simply responding, “We’ll see” (Gardner 163). Most notably, as in the epic, Beowulf battles a powerful, terrorizing monster. As evidenced by these characteristics, Beowulf perfectly fits the mold of the epic hero, not only in Beowulf, but also in …show more content…
Although in the beginning, Gardner seems to debase the archetype, the characteristics of Anglo-Saxon culture and Grendel’s description of Beowulf combine to portray Beowulf as an even more appreciable hero. Although the subject of monsters and heroes may not seem relevant to the real world, these two compositions say a lot about human nature. Even more than a thousand years after the epic originated, Gardner shows that humans still have not changed, despite all of the progress we have seemingly made in the modern world. Humans still want heroes to be

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