Argumentative literature free essay: Grendel’s Heroism
Grendel is one of the main characters in the novel titled Grendel authored by John Gardner and released in 1971. The story contained in the novel is based on an old heroic poem called Beowulf. The story is told in the perspective of Grendel, who is a bearlike monster (Gardner, 2015). Grandel mocks the idea of heroism held by human beings, but his actions and responses to human beings make him a hero. This paper explains why Grendel emerges as a hero in the story.
In the second chapter of the novel, Grendel emerges as a hero when he moves out of cave to explore the world, yet he knows that he can be killed. Initially, Grendel lives with his mother who had warned him not to move out of their cave. However, Grendel moves out of the cave when he senses the smell of a newborn calf. A bull tries to kill him, yet he continues to explore the world through interacting with human beings (Gardner, 2015). In chapter 3, Grendel is presented as having better character than human beings. He is angered by the wars that human beings engage in every frequently. He wanders why human beings do not stop the violence. Grendel is also angered by human beings because of killing animals and yet they do not eat them. In adition, he is angered by the extent to which human beings destroy trees and leave a lot of waste (Gardner, 2015). In response, Grendel collects some of the wastes of human war and takes them to the cave. This indicates that Grendel has a better character than the humans living in their village. The fact that Grendel thinks and engages in better acts than the humans and yet he is a monster makes him a hero (Gale, 2016).
The most significant act that makes Grendel a hero is refusing to kill Unferth in chapter 6. Unferth is a worrier who believes that he should fight in order to be regarded a hero. He believes that he should fight and defeat Grendel in order to enhance his fame (Gale, 2015). When Unferth attacks Grendel, Grendel does not respond violently. Instead, Grendel responds to responds to Unferth through throwing apples at him. In doing so, Grendel denies Unferth the chance of portraying himself as a hero. In the view of Grendel, violence should not be used as a parameter for defining heroes. Consequently, he mocks Unferth because of believing that violent people are the heroes. Unferth follows Grendel to cave to fight against him. He tells Grendel that one of them must die. Grendel manages to overcome Unferth (Gardner, 2015). Despite the fact that Grendel has a chance to kill Unferth, he does not do so. He says that killing Unferth would be an act of cowardice. The response of Grendel to Unferth is a heroic sacrifice. At last, Grendel fights with Beowulf, one of the leaders in his village. Although Beowulf manages to kill Grendel, Grendel still believes that the Beowulf should not be regarded as a hero because of that act (Gardner, 2015).
Overall, Grendel’s character and responses to human beings make him a hero in his own way. He is brave enough to explore the world even when he knows he might be killed. His character that is better than the behaviors of human beings in his village also make him a hero. The most remarkable aspect that makes him a hero is failing to kill Unferth when he has a chance.
Gale (2016). A Study Guide for John Gardner’s “Grendel.” New York, NY: Cengage Learning
Gardner, J. (2015). Grendel. New York, NY: Orion.
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