Grendel_Essay - Hist 1510 Professor Corpis 10/19/08...

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Hist 1510 Professor Corpis 10/19/08 Anti-Hero vs. Villain “I had become something, as if born again… I was Grendel, Ruiner of Meadhalls, Wrecker of Kings! But also, as never before, I was alone.” 1 This excerpt from John Gardner’s novel Grendel exemplifies the emotional volatility of Grendel and his struggle with the philosophical understanding of his life. The representation of the character of Grendel in this twentieth century piece of literature greatly differs from that of his original standing in the medieval epic Beowulf . If we examine the differences between the two books with respect to their representations of Grendel and other characters, we can start to understand the modern novel’s concentration on a hero vs. anti-hero mentality instead of the original hero vs. villain. This change of the perception of the hero and his antagonist is rooted in the cultural and philosophical differences between the two time periods, most significantly the influences of religion and the development of rationalism. In the epic of Beowulf , we are introduced to the Characters of Beowulf and Grendel who are seen as complete opposites in direct conflict with one another, Beowulf characterized by good and Grendel by evil. As the influence of Christianity on daily life was quite strong in this time period, the fight between the good of Beowulf and the evil of Grendel can easily be equated as the clash between the heavenly/divine and that which is hellish and representative of the devil. The direct two sided battle between the forces of God and those of the Devil was a most prominent part of Christian theology at the time, one which was constantly applied daily life.
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Grendel_Essay - Hist 1510 Professor Corpis 10/19/08...

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