Comparing Beowulf And Grendel

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Over time ideas and standards of society change. Life thousands of years ago was much different than how it is today. In Grendel, the characters reflect the modern self absorbed society that accepts negative qualities. The characters in Beowulf are glorified and rely heavily on religion for guidance. The epic, Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney and the book, Grendel by John Gardner reflect the changes in society between the two periods in which they were written. One thing that has changed over time is our society's perception of morality. In Grendel, the character, Grendel is able to connect with the readers by saying, “I shake my head, muttering darkly on shaded paths, holding conversation with the only friend and comfort this world affords,…show more content…
One reason he is portrayed as this is because society today has a large focus on the individual. In the Narcissism Epidemic, the author states,“Over the last few decades, narcissism has risen as much as obesity,” (Twenge, 31). This self absorbed theme is highlighted in Grendel. With a narcissistic perspective, readers can relate to Grendel along with other characters thoughts. Grendel's narcissism is displayed when he says, “I was Grendel, Ruiner of Mead Halls, Wrecker of Kings!” (Gardner, 80). The narrative in Grendel is told in the first person and through Grendel's viewpoint which allows for a biased look at the world. Society today is self centered, Americans live lavish lives with the help of technology and other man made inventions. During the Anglo-Saxon period narcissism was not displayed due to “...the hazards of war, famine, and tribal feuds [that] were always ready to attack,” (Lee, 117). Society had a larger focus on surviving rather than self indulging. Unlike modern society, the Anglo-Saxons focused more on the group, not the individual. Hrothgar exemplifies this when he says,“ It is always better/ to avenge dear ones that to indulge in mourning.” (Heaney, 1384- 1389) Instead of being self centered, the Anglo-Saxon society cared about kin members, and focused on how to help them. Today, narcissism controls everyday life however, in the Anglo-Saxon period, looking out for others was deemed more…show more content…
The Anglo-Saxons were a blend of Animism, Paganism, and other secular beliefs. Grendel is an example of how folk tale and religious values were combined when he is described as, “ A powerful demon, a prowler through the dark/ nursed a hard grievance,” (Heaney, 86-87). Grendel is know as a monster and a villain from hell. Using the Anglo-Saxons fear of the nighttime combined with Christian beliefs, Heaney is able to show how society was during the Anglo-Saxon time period. Grendel, unlike Beowulf, was written solely to inform the readers how Grendel was effected by society and religion. The Dragon, in Grendel notes on this,“They’d man out roads through hell with their crackpot theories-their-here-to-the-moon-and-back list of pultry facts,” (Gardner, 13). Religion plays an important part in Beowulf but in Grendel the author shows the effect of how religion is used in society. Grendel is an example of this because he becomes frustrated with the religious beliefs of the Dragon and the Shaper. In modern society, many people struggle to understand other people's viewpoints, and this causes

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