The Importance Of Nihilism In Grendel

1848 Words 8 Pages
“Everything in the world displeases me: but, above all, my displeasure in everything displeases me,” said Friedrich Nietzsche a German Philosopher. This German philosopher believed in nihilism, which is a philosophy that rejects all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless. This perspective on the world is continued, in the novel Grendel, by John Gardner, as the main character Grendel goes through different philosophies, from solipsism to nihilism. Grendel displays a nihilistic philosophy throughout the novel and ultimately this philosophy leaves him purposeless and plagues him with habitual boredom, therefore Grendel’s nihilism leads to his death because both of these factors lead him to crave death. …show more content…
When Grendel states, “Tedium is the worst pain” (138), he portrays his pain stems from his lack of things to do and his boredom. Stating “tedium” shows how he is always bored because he literally has nothing to do every day. His tedium only intensifies that he does not have anything significant in his life and is continued in the story as he states, “In my cave, the tedium is worse, of course. My mother no longer shows any sign of sanity, hurrying back and forth, wall to wall, sometimes on two legs, sometimes on four.” (145). The only thing that Grendel can interact with, in the cave, is his mother and she is slowly going into insanity. This lack of interaction Grendel faces makes it harder for him to find any significance in his life because he does not have legitimate interaction with anyone. The fact that Grendel observes his mother in the cave as walking on four legs then two and from “wall to wall” signifies his own boredom in his own home. He continually observes his mother’s simple actions and does not have anything to do himself. Near the beginning of the novel when Grendel is walking outside near Hrothgar’s mead hall he gets stuck inside a tree and is hopelessly trapped. He says to himself, “‘Poor Grendel will hang here and starve to death,’ I told myself, ‘and no one will ever even miss him!” (18). As he gets stuck in this tree he accepts defeat and …show more content…
Will the last of my life slide out if I let out breath? They watch with mindless, indifferent eyes, as calm and midnight black as the chasm below me. Is it joy I feel?” (173). Grendel feels terror when dying, but he does not know if he feels joy along with that terror. Grendel has lost all senses of happiness or joy because of all his nihilistic beliefs. He has believed that the world was nothing and that nothing mattered, causing him to lose all significance in his life which leads to his tedium and to this moment. He is about to die and does not know what to feel because of his nihilistic philosophy. Grendel again uses the word “chasm” to describe his mental state. He is falling into this dark black hole of nihilism within himself and when he reaches the bottom of the pit he will die. And inevitably, he does reach the bottom of this “endless” pit, dying

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