Grendel: John Gardner's Ideal Hero

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In the novel, Grendel, John Gardner uses specific elements of his work’s genre to communicate the ideal hero of his time by implying that Grendel is a romantic anti-hero. Gardner does this by giving Grendel the cursed attributes of not fitting into society, being rejected by society, and viewing himself as the center of his existence. In chapter 11, Grendel finds himself questioning his old philosophical ideologies as he leaves his cave for the last time. Grendel thinks to himself, “I saw long ago the whole universe as not-my-mother, and I glimpsed my place in it, a hole. Yet I exist, I knew. Then I alone exist, I said. It's me or it. What glee, that glorious recognition!... For even my mama loves me not for myself, my holy specialness (he he ho ha), but for my son-ness, my possessedness, my displacement of air as visible proof of her power” (158).…show more content…
Although, Grendel has met with the dragon and was taught about the randomness of the universe and his lack of "specialness", he still feels hope that his ideas are still true about how he controls the world through his own perception of it. Grendel constantly feels rejection from human kind throughout the novel. In chapter 4, Grendel feels rejected as he listens to the Shaper’s song. Grendel thinks to himself, “My heart was light with Hrothgar's goodness, and leaden with grief at my own bloodthirsty ways. I backed away, crablike, further into the darkness—like a crab retreating in pain when you strike two stones at the mouth of his underwater den” (48). The Shaper's version of events convinces Grendel to consider himself more poorly than ever. He has been portrayed as a villain towards mankind, and feels the psychological pain of his separation from the rest of creation. In chapter 6, Grendel is leaving Hrothgar’s meadhall after his first raid and found that he had new

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