Analysis of Storytelling: Discovering One's Identity and Purpose in Life

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The role of storytelling is significant since it highlights the personalities and traits specific to important characters. Storytelling can also drive the plot, as seen in Homer’s The Odyssey and Virgil’s The Aeneid. These epics are based on the telling of the protagonist’s journey. However Grendel, written by John Gardner, utilizes storytelling in a different manner. The main character bases his self-understanding off of the storytelling done by the Shaper, a blind bard telling historical tales. The purpose of storytelling in Gardner’s, Homer’s and Virgil’s works is to personify the protagonist in what he does to truly define himself.
In John Gardner’s Grendel, the Shaper is an important contributing character that carries the plot in a
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The light side of Grendel is intellectual, misunderstood and curious while the dark side is the malevolent-being terrorizing Hrothgar’s mead hall because there is no meaning to anything.
The use of storytelling is a key device that Gardner chooses to embody in Grendel. Storytelling not only is signified by the one telling the story but is also signified by how the story is told and with what techniques. Gardner does this by the conventional method of a story seen through the eyes of Grendel himself. The story starts with a twelve year feud with the Danes and ends with the heroic Beowulf fending off Grendel. However, the use of flashbacks of Grendel’s life shows what Grendel came to learn and understand growing up. This portrayed him as a curious and naïve animal, as opposed to the monster depicted in Beowulf, until he breaches the surface where he sees the rise of Hrothgar’s kingdom. A key thing that Grendel learns while exploring in his early years is that the human race revolves around violence, particularly when he encounters the bull that is constantly trying to thrust his horns at him. The theme of violence occurs now and again in many classical works, “we see men and women placed in a situation in which violence always threatens to spiral out of control and not only destroy them but also force them to act in ways that de-humanize them” (Norton 101). This theory is then solidified when he is attacked and almost killed by Hrothgar, at an early age,

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