Examples Of Existentialism In Grendel

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Look around you. Most likely, you will encounter other individuals are similar to you in many physical or inner aspects; skin color, or height for physical aspects; religion, or political ideologies for inner aspects. Regardless of what aspects are similar, we all possess one detail that can makes us different, and that is the free will to choose how to live and make decisions in one’s life. This is the idea of existentialism. However, the moment an individual allows their life decisions to be thoughtlessly dictated by religion, political, or any ideology, it will lead to a meaningless life as their identity is suppressed by the ideology. In John Gardner’s Grendel, Grendel is presented as a rational monster, where his actions are based on the…show more content…
After Grendel’s conversation with the Dragon, he raids the meadhall with the men of Hrothgar who stand no chance until Unferth, a Scylding hero, appears to kill Grendel. However, Unferth’s heroic atmosphere is short-lived through his first few words with Grendel, “’Monster, prepare to die!’ [. . .]. Very righteous. The wings of his nostrils flared and quivered like an outraged priest” (65). Gardner uses a simile to describe Unferth as “an outraged priest”, revealing that Grendel thinks Unferth not as a hero, but as any other individual who is bothered by Grendel’s actions. Priests—individuals who are normally weak and refrain from violence—are compared to the brave and masculine characteristic of a hero. This illustrates Unferth’s feeble presence, and the weakness of his boastful talk in the light of Grendel, who is not blinded by heroism. The complete belief in heroism gives Unferth a sense of confidence, an illusion where he is able to structure his life around, and act according to the principles of a hero even though he is not. Additionally, Gardner’s diction in describing Unferth’s nostril as “flar[ing]” and “quiver[ing]” produces a bestial image, which further…show more content…
Hrothulf, just like Grendel, are both very similar individuals in terms of ideologies as they don’t conform to the norm of society and question the essential problem in their worlds. Hrothulf essential problem, however, critiques the inequality between the peasant laborers and the thanes (noblemen) in terms of both wealth and physical treatment. This is evident during Hrothulf’s soliloquy, “Law rules the land. Men’s violence is chained to good (i.e., to the king): legitimate force that chops the bread-thief’s neck [. . .]. Why does the bread-thief die and the murdering Thane escape by a sleight by the costliest of advocates?” (89-90). The irony of the punishment for the crimes, death for the bread-thief and nothing for the murder, reveals that money is what truly rules a capitalistic society. This illustrates the extremely leverage the Thanes have, where the punishment from law can simply be paid off with money but a peasant stealing bread simply for survival, will face death because are unable to exploit law. Additionally, irony is again present in, “Law rules the land”, as it is immediately contradicted with the death of the bread-thief. This represents that the wealthy rule the land, and are in

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