John he has the ability to become.

John Gardner’s characterization of Grendel and his ability to recognize his monstrous traits allows the reader to connect with him on a human level.In the novel Grendel the author, John Gardner, does some of his best work as he guides the reader to finding their inner self by showing how the monster finds his inner self.

The novel of subject is a recounting of the classic story of Beowulf; however, the viewpoint has changed. This version is told from the viewpoint of one of Beowulf’s seemingly daunting antagonist, Grendel. In the novel, Gardner humanizes Grendel by showing similarities between Grendel’s life and human life. Through Gardner showing Grendel’s flaws, actions, and feelings, this monstrous character becomes understood and made “human.” An example of this comes at the point in the story when Grendel is explaining why he chooses to kill cows instead of deer.

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The reason obviously being that cows have much more meat and require much less effort to catch, something most practical humans would realize just like the monster. Grendel is yet again made to seem even more human like when he is absolutely taken aback by the Shaper’s beautiful songs and poems. Sobbing over the tunes, he says that he was “filled with sorrow and tenderness” (Gardner 44) and that he was “torn apart by poetry” (Gardner 44). Yet another moment of the well known human like hope and purpose shows through when Grendel is speaking to the dragon about how he doesnt feel as though he should scare humans just for fun. Defending his reasoning against the dragon, Grendel says, “Why shouldn’t one change one’s ways, improve one’s character?” (Grendel 72).

This strongly opposes what the dragon tries to constantly impress on Grendel. That idea being that the humans need Grendel to be the awful monster that he has the ability to become. This defiance toward what he is being told shows not only that he can think on his own like a human, but also has the compassion and feelings that most humans would have in his situation. The other very noticeable feature of the novel is the large amount of actions and feelings Grendel shows that parallel those humans show.

To name a few examples, when a human themselves in a stressful or annoying situation, they may tend to swear or curse the sky. Grendel indeed does the same from time to time in the novel. When he is angered early in the novel, he runs to the center of the forest and says, “Bastards” I roared. “Sons of b*****s! F*****s!” (Gardner 52). Those are words shouted just the same by humans in similar situations. Grendel also, early in the novel, tends to act a lot like a human child in certain situations.

This happens most noticeably when Grendel is stuck in a tree all by himself and is depicted as being very upset and whiny like a baby would be in the human world. These traits shown by Grendel, however, help the reader connect with him on a much deeper level. They help the reader feel for him and care for him at times.

This, by the end of the novel, can sometimes help someone find in themselves who they really are and what they really believe about human nature. That, in itself, is a beautiful thing. To conclude, the author of Grendel, John Gardner, does an excellent job of connecting the reader to the novel by showing the similarities and many human qualities of the so called monster through use of emotion and feeling throughout the book.


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