Grendel is one of the most focused character from the Anglo Saxon poem known as Beowulf in which he is believed to be a human monster that relishes in cannibalism yet he doesn’t feel the need to play by the rules (Liuzza, 2000).
Grendel is a human monster that feeds upon men and is cannibalistic in nature. In the poem, he is known to be a descendent of Cain, the son of Adam and Eve that killed his own brother. As any descendent of Cain is to be known as a creature himself, so is the case with Grendel. However, the poem reiterates that Grendel is has two hands, two legs and a head. This physique raises questions that the creature may in fact be a human after all. Since Grendel has feelings of fury and rage and dislikes the songs and joy that take place in Heorot, it strengthens the belief that Grendel is human.
Since Grendel is shown to be larger in physique, being able to hurl away a number of warriors at a time, it shows that he is far more powerful than the rest of mankind. This likens him to a monster since he loves devouring men as his feast. Grendel’s behavior of a monster is further strengthened by the belief that Grendel loves violence and doesn’t not pay for the losses he commits. This means that Grendel, in fact, is a combination of both human and monster while his feasting habits observe that this human monster is a cannibal in nature (Liuzza, 2000).
Grendel can be seen as a metaphor for fear as the way he feeds on humans is through fear. It is adamant in the poem that everyone in Danes is fearful of Grendel, leaving no one with courage to stand up against him. Even before his arrival, the fellow warriors of Beowulf were afraid that they wouldn’t see their country again. This implements that Grendel lives with fear as his main source of power ad dominance.
However, Grendel can also be seen as someone who envies Heorot and the warriors inside since they are humans while Grendel believes himself to be non-human. He is enraged with the fact that warriors at Heorot are blessed by God while he, a descendent of Cain, will never be worthy of being blessed. This clarifies that Grendel can be seen as someone who lives on fear yet remains as an outcast due to his envious beliefs (Liuzza, 2000).
Grendel is real in the book as he actively fights with Beowulf while he also devours warriors at Heorot each night. However, as a concept, Grendel can be likened to Fear while Beowulf can be likened to Courage and Valor as well as Hope. Grendel brings fear to Danes but Beowulf brings Hope instead. It is visible that Courage always triumphs over fear and in the fight between Grendel and Beowulf, it is noted that Grendel is defeated by Beowulf and retreats in dismay and fear itself. This can be likened to Courage triumphing over Fear and all types of animosity that fear can manage to bring about. Another view of the fight in which Beowulf can be seen as Hope while Grendel is seen as Fear can be demonstrated as Hope arises in Beowulf Defeats Grendel (Liuzza, 2000).
Liuzza, R. (2000). Beowulf (1st ed.). Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press.