Is Grendel Truley Evil?

1109 words 5 pages
Is Grendel Evil or Victim to Circumstance? : How humanity has a tendency to put labels on people they don’t really understand.

In the epic of Beowulf, one of the warrior’s biggest adversaries is a creature from the swamp named Grendel. Although the character of Grendel is present for only a short portion in the story of Beowulf, Grendel signifies one of the important messages in the text about humanity. In Beowulf, Grendel is called a ‘monster’. However, if observed closely, analyzing the meaning behind the story, it is easy to see that Grendel is not a typical monster, in fact, it doesn’t seem like he is a monster at all. There is much evidence within the short period of the text where Grendel is present, which indicates he is
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These actions show the love between the mother and son, and the human-like emotions that are between them through what she does for her son. “So Grendel raged his lonely war” (163). This is one of the few lines in the text that gives some tribute to how much unfair suffering and loneliness Grendel has had in his life. His actions in the text are also an indication of Grendel not being all the evil he is made out to be. Grendel started attacking Heorot when the people were celebrating and praying to God. This is a world where Grendel was shunned from for actions he didn’t commit. He does nothing out of selfish malice or unfounded reason, his anger and actions (to a certain point) are justified. His actions and evil was due to larger circumstances that were not of his choice. Grendel wasn’t evil, although owns some responsibility for the bad choices he made, it is important to keep in mind he was also trying to fit into the code of behavior in this time which was full of violence. Although this is all evidence to how Grendel isn’t truly a monster, Grendel as a monster is important to the story as a plot device as well. The mere fact that Grendel is called a monster gives reason to why the reader must hate Grendel and root for Beowulf; without an evil, there would be no story, quest, or hero. However, the presence of Grendel seems to both enhance and at the same time undermine Beowulf’s title as a hero. There truly would be no heroic act for Beowulf to