The Importance Of Heroism In John Gardner's Grendel

Superior Essays
Many of the characters in John Gardner’s Grendel have a direction, purpose and philosophy that changes Grendel when he interacts with theses characters.Wealtheow is self-sacrificing, Hrothgar wants glory to his kingdom, the dragon believed in a purposeless world and the Shaper used his words to create something to believe in. But Unferth and Beowulf are the ones who influence Grendel 's reason to become the monster of the Danes. Theses two who would spend their lives trying to become great heroes so that their names will live on forever. Heroism is as an act of great bravery regardless of the outcome, for one reason; the intention behind the act. In the time of Beowulf, the interpretation of an act of bravery or heroism, would not be so much …show more content…
He is a mature man and gives off the feeling that he is true, brave and intimidating. His purpose to be there to become their hero are in the right place because he want to rid Hrothgar and his people from the terror of Grendel. In Gardner’s version of Beowulf, he uses Beowulf’s eyes to distance him from what a hero is by clarifying his intentions as not noble but selfish. “The eyes slanted downward, never blinking, unfeeling as a snake’s.” (p. 154) He’s not there to save Hrothgar’s people nor does he truly want to stop their suffering, he is there because he wants to be remembered as the one who slain the monster and stopped their pain. To Danes and Hrothgar Beowulf is still a hero even before he does anything heroic but to Grendel he is just another selfish …show more content…
The situation had demanded respect but Grendel 's disregard for heroes “lacks the pomp of glorious victory.” (Milosh) But Unferth still holds onto the idea of what a true hero is, believing that he will forever remain heroic. He stands up to Grendel and even seeks out his home to destroy him. “It will be sung year on year, and age on age that Unferth went down through the burning lake … and gave his life in battle with the world-rim monster.” (Gardner p. 87) Unferth will not be alive to receive any gifts or any glory for giving his life in battle, yet he still sees it as retribution for his sacrifice. This is something that Beowulf would never see as reason for dying. Grendel denies Unferth his heroism by letting him live and returning him unharmed to be shamed from his “battle” with the world-rim monster in the cave under the

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