Books and Movies Reviews

Three Roads To One Hero

Throughout the two epics, Beowulf, and Gilgamesh, and the novel Grendel, we see certain heroic characteristics of the main characters. Although Beowulf, Grendel, and Gilgamesh all come to a heroic end, they differ in way in which they came to that end. In Beowulf we read of a great warrior who cares about nothing but honor and his people. In Gilgamesh, we see a man who comes to a realization of his mortality, and then does all he can to overcome that “weakness.” Finally, in Grendel, we see a “monster” that was born in a cruel world, and comes to a cruel ending.
Throughout the epic poem of Beowulf, we not only read of the heroism of Beowulf himself, but the guile of the antagonist, Grendel. By the fifth chapter, Beowulf is showing a characteristic that was vital to a Greek hero. He is boasting of his accomplishments. He tells of how he once fought a serpent in the open ocean. This might not seem to heroic, but you must attempt to become an archeological reader to begin fully understanding why this is so heroic. During the fist century of this millenium, one of the many things that scared people, and continues to do so today, is the unknown. Beowulf braved the unknown on not only land, but also where man has never belonged. He braved the unknown in the ocean. Grendel throughout the poem is, however, shown in a different light. He is a monster. He is a descendant of thefirst murderer, Cain. He kills simply for sport. He relishes in the blood of mankind. He is a monster who knows no bounds.
In Grendel however, the point of view of the reader has changed. We now read from the point of view of the “monster.” We see how he has been born into a world where he understands next to nothing, and does not even have the comfort of a true mother. He can talk to no one, save for a dragon that sees everything, past, present and future, and he is alone in a world of humans. There is no place of refuge where he can escape the world of hate that he l…

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