Grendel is an interesting novel that addresses many different philosophical questions, such as problems with the self and of faith of a higher being and the meaning of life. Grendel is a repulsive, extremely large beast. He chooses to live by himself because he’s insecure about his appearance and doesn’t feel accepted in the beginning of the novel Grendel encounters not so smart ram that seems to be ignoring him. Grendel gets extremely angered by this. Throughout the book he talks about how the worst thing there is indifference. Indifference being the epitome of evil. His way of thinking is that being hated is better than not being acknowledged. At least they take the time to waste energy on hating you and they at least think about you.
This would be why Grendel has had an ongoing war with the humans that has lasted 12 years. Every summer the humans will form an enormous group and attempt to hunt down Grendel and kill him. This was because Hrothgar, the king, had defeated the six closest neighbors and had them pay tribute. Yet Grendel provokes this, every year he’ll go and raid the meadhall and kill some of the men. He does this so they wont forget about him, he’s so afraid of being invisible to all the living things around him.
When Grendel was younger he had an encounter with the humans that scarred him. He was wondering the forest and him wondered a bit too far. He had been following the scent to a calf. He ended up stuck in a tree and then some humans found him. At first they weren’t sure how to react or what he was. Then they attack him because they got alarmed by the noises he made. Throughout everything Grendel has become a very bitter and heartless individual. He begins to see the world in such a negative way. He becomes an existentialist, thinking that there’s no real meaning to life.
Basically we are born into the world, live our life and then we eventually die. That life has no real meaning, that we live our lives for no reason. We are just here. He doesn’t believe in God or any other kind of higher being. He believes that he serves no purpose in the world. Later on during the story Grendel encounters ” the dragon” he’s a red-golden beast that begins to put thoughts into Grendel’s impressionable mind. The dragon can read his mind and intrudes on his thoughts during their encounters and he can see the past, present and future.
He begins to see his life just past him by. Then Grendel begins to start paying attention to the shaper at the mead hall and listens to all his stories. The dragon says that where Grendel’s confusion comes from. When the shaper gets sick Grendel gets so upset, he enjoyed his stories so much, it was the only way that he felt part of any community. And now that has been taken away from him. After his encounter with the dragon he thinks more about his role in life and what meaning his life has. So now he decides to give himself a title as the “meadhall wrecker”.
He’s so bitter about his station in life he feels he has to give himself a title because no one else will. Grendel keeps his on going war with humans throughout the rest of the novel. One time, he even spares a couple of the humans who followed him back to his cave and also the woman who wondered to his part of the woods. But nevertheless he keeps raiding and killing and they keep trying to find him. The story ends with Grendel going in to the meadhall once again to raid it and there is Bewoulf. The two battle and Bewoulf ends up killing Grendel.
The book was interesting and I do believe that Grendel’s thoughts on the world and life do make sense. Sometimes it can seem like life has no meaning, and it is way better to be hated then not noticed at all. At least when someone hates you, they’re taking the time to think about you and waste some energy on you, even if it is a negative energy. I’m not sure if there is a God but Grendel does raise some interesting questions. Overall I think that Grendel was a good person, despite what the books leads us to believe, I mean, he did spare some of the humans at times.
He only did them harm so that he wouldn’t be overlooked. It’s like a child who acts out just to get attention from the people around him. It’s not necessarily the right thing to do but people just tend to be like that. So in essence it can’t truly be excused as justifiable behavior but it can be understood. I could relate to the feeling that perhaps there is no god in this world. Because I have a hard time accepting the thought of a higher being when all there is as proof is a book that was written by man. For a long time I thought like Grendel, you’re born, live, and then you die, and that’s it.
It’s definetley an easier way to live, some sort of self-preservation, I guess you could say. You never really let yourself be disillusioned by life or by your emotions. Our emotions are simply a chemical imbalance that creates a euphoria that makes us stupid. So by being like Grendel we save ourselves the heartache of the harsh realities of the world. So the thought that we just live and then die is so much easier. When you die, all you do is rot in the ground. But then I’m not sure about that, because I do believe that there might be some sort of afterlife, who knows.