Theme Of Monstrosity In Grendel

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Monstrosity is found in the deep caverns of human hearts. Far too often, the visual of humanity is optimistic, displaying kindness, morality, and beauty. While this is the ideal portrait of society, John Gardner reveals the true colors of human comradeship; doing so through the characterization of a monster, Grendel. For millennia, authors, illustrators, and artists have opened the portal to an underlying evil world using monsters such as Frankenstein and Dracula. However, these characters may have merely been ugly humans with exaggerated actions, and society has been the heir to their characteristics. In John Gardner 's contemporary novel, Grendel, he presents a monster who wants to assimilate into mankind; however, what Grendel does not understand …show more content…
Upon interaction with the commoners, Grendel is identified as a monster; this pseudonym is infinite, as he carries it on through his own actions. Through the discovery of the labeling theory and self-fulfilling prophecy, sociologists identified the process of an individual becoming what he or she is labeled as. This creates an example of the placebo effect. A person believes something will happen, so it does. This methodology cures sickness, so, ultimately, it holds the capability of poisoning self-image. Grendel is a victim of insecurity. An insecure person will adopt the traits that he or she is given, simply out of a wish for acceptance. Grendel 's heart yearned for his body to fit in, and he believed that if he acted as the people expected, they would accept him. “I was Grendel, Ruiner of Meadhalls, Wrecker of Kings! But also, as never before, I was alone” (Gardner 80). The townspeople recognized Grendel by such titles, and he felt obligated to retain his many reputations. However, Grendel 's dialogue hints at his consistent lack of acceptance. He realizes that, through his monstrous behavior that mocked the people 's illustration, he had only become more alone. Just as the average human existing in society, Grendel just wants to be accepted, and he tries everything in his power to reach his personified ambitions. Acceptance is key in a society that shuns individuality; and …show more content…
Grendel is an existentialist, meaning that he believes that no true purpose to life exists, but that one must create their own purpose of living. “I would feel, all at once, alone and ugly, almost- as if I 'd dirtied myself- obscene” (Gardner 17). Grendel presumes that the concluding result- not the afterlife conclusion, but rather the legacy- of his life will be a direct reflection of the things that he has done throughout his existence. Grendel wishes that, upon his death, he would be remembered in retrospect as intimidating, fierce, and powerful. This is his reason for instilling fear upon the common folk; Grendel desires the image of a leader, one of force and authority through fright. Humans seek to be remembered- they seek legacy and honor. They yearn to be a household name and to be viewed as “important”. Death is unavoidable, but the way one is remembered is clay molded as a life is lived, with the final piece of pottery being a creation of the potter. Grendel is an avid potter, and yearns for the final masterpiece to be exactly as he would have it

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