Beowulf

Beowulf
"Nor have I ever seen,/ Out of all the men on earth, one greater/ Than has come with you; no commoner carries/ Such weapons, unless his appearance, and his beauty,/ Are both lies."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Journal 11


Philosophy- journal 11
                The first chapter opens up with Aries, the ram, which marks the beginning of a new cycle. In this first chapter the story shows repetition of the cycles. For Grendel, each year seems to repeat itself with the same reaction toward his actions. Grendel knows that he will go down to Herot’s meadhall and that no one will stop him. This chapter shows the theory that the world is an endless cycle. The second chapter is also important in showing Grendel’s early philosophies because in the second chapter Taurus, the bull, is the real beginning of the story. In this chapter Grendel gets his foot stuck in the crotch of the tree; after Grendel sees no hope in being saved he assumes that he, himself, exists and no one else. When men later find him in the tree and torture him in order to figure out what he is Grendel shrieks of pain which brings his mother to his rescue. Once Grendel arrives home, he again comes to the assumption that he alone exist. This begins Grendel’s path towards a solipsist philosophy. Solipsism is the denial of other concrete objects existence.
                In the third chapter Gemini, the twin, challenges Grendel’s solipsist philosophies through the use of the shaper. The shaper brings account to the village and forces Grendel to recognize exterior reality. For Grendel, the shaper creates order through the idea of good and evil. In chapter four Cancer, the crab, introduces the ideas of religion. Grendel comes to want to accept the idea of the shaper even though he will be portrayed as evil. Grendel wants to accept the shapers tales showing the desires of hope and order. Grendel even goes as far as to present himself to the warriors in the meadhall to ask for forgiveness; Grendel’s presentation results in the attack of the warriors through fear.
                In chapter five Leo, the lion, helps show Grendel what his role in society is. Grendel’s wonder as to his purpose continues to grow and in turn goes to the dragon for answers. Much of the dragon’s advice is nihilistic, telling Grendel that there is no purpose to philosophy. The Dragon tells Grendel that his only motto is to get “gold, and sit on it.” The dragon’s nihilistic views prevent Grendel from accepting the simply theology of the shaper. After Grendel’s meeting with the Dragon he is charmed, which changes his attitude towards society. The charm creates anger towards Herot’s citizens and a feeling of superiority. Grendel’s superiority comes from his invincibility to human weapons. This leads to Grendel’s views that his “existence precedes essence,” which shows that Grendel has been reborn in beliefs. This rebirth is in a renewal of his solipsist physiology; he recognizes that others may exist but they are all enemies to him. Since Grendel is on his own, this shows his representation that he alone exists. Grendel’s beliefs are balanced out by Wealthow, the character from chapter seven, who brings order and peace to Heorot; while Grendel brings violence and chaos to the city.
                In chapter eight Scorpio, the scorpion, establishes the ideas and philosophies of other characters in the story. Two of these characters are Hrothulf and Red Horse who scorns the separation of power between the rich and the poor.  Red Horse tells Hrothulf that “All systems are evil. All governments are evil. Not just a trifle evil. Monstrously evil” (Gardner 116).On the other hand, Hrothulf thinks that not all governments are evil and hopes to take power to change the crude behaviors of the present kingdom. These beliefs are demonstrated by Gardener and represents Machievelli's ideas.  The story continues towards this modern age of thinking, which is shown in chapter nine by Sagittarius, the hunter, where religion doesn’t have such a major role. The village still believes in the ideas of good and evil but they move towards Whiteheads idea of process. Grendel even is stunned by how the young priest preach things they don’t believe in. This is shown when they scorn Ork because of his theories of God. The priest describes Ork as a "lunatic priests” that is “bad business. . . . One man like him can turn us all to paupers" (Gardner 117).

                In chapter ten Capricorn, the goat, shows how the Capricorns symbolize Grendel’s pessimistic views that he develops in this chapter by a Nietzchean philosophy. Grendel, the only one moved by the Orks words, also shows to be the most affected by the Shapers death. When the shaper dies Grendel goes as far as to say that “we’re on our own again. Abandoned” (Gardner 130).  Grendel now shows views in this chapter that without the shaper there is emptiness in the world. Gardner uses these pessimistic views to represent that symbolism of Nietzshe’s writing.
                In the last two chapters of eleven and twelve, Grendel comes to notice that maybe he is not the only one that exist. This new thinking comes with the arrival of Beowulf, who Grendel becomes to fear. Grendel finally brushes with his fears and is ready for his encounter with Beowulf. When Grendel goes into battle with Beowulf he quickly learns that this might have the same outcome as the many nights before. Grendel’s defeat forces him to change from his solipsism philosophy to that of empiricism, the acceptance of other objects. This last chapter shows his major change from his beginning ideas that he alone exist, with some challenges along the way, to his final knowledge that other objects and beings around him do exist. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Journal 2


A powerful monster (Grendel)
Beowulf demonstrates good and evil, heaven and hell, through the use of Grendel and Beowulf. Beowulf begins with a story of king Hrothgar of Denmark, a descendent of the great kings shield Sheafson, who enjoys wealth and successful reign. Through this prosper he builds a, mead-hall, called Heorot, where his warriors can gather to drink, receive gifts from their lord, and listen to stories sung by scoops of bards. The rejoicing noise from Heorot angers Grendel, an evil demon who lives in the darkness of Hrothgar’s kingdom. Grendel rules the halls of the Danes, killing them and easily defeating their efforts to fight back. Grendel’s rampage continues for many years creating fear, danger, and death for the Danes. The character of Grendel is portrayed as evil. This is proven by the description of Grendel noting that he is an offspring of Cain, how he kills without remorse, and the description of his home.
The poet hints that behind Grendel’s aggression against the Danes, lies loneliness and jealousy. Grendel, in the opening passage of the poem, is being described by the speaker. The poem shows the origin of Grendel evil, making his connection to that of Cain. Saying that Grendel is “Conceived by a pair of those monsters born/ Of Cain, murderous creature banished/ By God, punished forever for the crime/ Of Abele’s death. The Almighty drove/ those demons out, and their exile bitter,/ Shut away from men” (21 Raffel).  Because Grendel is the descendent of Cain, father of all evil, Grendel will never know “God’s love.” Grendel is forced to this life of loneliness. This creates jealousy for Grendel towards the Danes happiness and wealth. Grendel, because of his jealousy, kills the Danes as way to make him feel superior.  This connection Grendel has with Cain embodies how Grendal has a natural pursuit for evil.
Grendel is guilty of his crimes of monstrosity, through his killing without remorse.  This lack of remorse is demonstrated when the battle between Heorot and Grendel begins. Described in the poem as   "Grendel's hatred began,/...the monster relished his savage war/ On the Danes, keeping the bloody feud/ Alive, seeking no peace, offering/ No truce, accepting no settlement, no price/ In gold or land, and paying the living/ For one crime only with another. No one/ Waited for reparation from his plundering claws:/ That shadow of death hunted in the darkness,/ Stalked Hrothgar's warriors" (22 Raffel). This shows how Grendel looks for no peace and only desires to kill the people of Heorot. Grendel finds satisfaction in killing, even if some of those people didn’t deserve to die. Grendel even plans out his killings stalking his prey and then goes to kill them in the darkness of the night. Grendel has no remorse in his killing, and he continues for twelve long winters with no one to stand in his way. This lack of remorse shows him guilty of monstrous crimes.  With Grendal continuation towards these crimes creates a major characteristic of evil for him.
Grendels most monstrous appearances are demonstrated through his home. Grendel goes into battle with Beowulf, finding out that this night would be very different then the many nights before. Grendel is defeated by Beowulf, but he retreats to his home. Grendel is described in the poem to live in secret places such as “Cliffs, wolf dens. Where water pours/ From the rocks/ ….Roots that reach as far as the water/ And help keep it dark. At night the that lake/ Burns like a torch” (35 Raffel). This gothic description gives that of a monstrous place, of that suited for an animal. A place where animals would rather die on the shore then to go near his home and any wise man would not dare to go there.  Grendel’s home shows his exile from the boundaries of society where no one dares to go. This description of Grendel’s home is one of the major descriptions that create the image of Grendel as dark and monstrous.
Grendel’s portrayal of darkness and evil are show through the poems description of Grendel’s connection to Cain, his killing, and his exiled home. Grendel is exiled because he is an off spring of Cain. This exile means that he will never know the love of God and this creates jealousy for Grendel towards those who are protected by God. Grendel’s main victims are those who live in Hrothgar kingdom Hrothgar is under Gods protection and because of this is given wealth and happiness. Grendel kills Hrothgar’s people out of jealousy for what he can’t have. In Grendel’s killing, he has no remorse and continues to kill with no consideration of peace. Other major monstrous characteristics of Grendel are his home that is down in the darkness separated from society. Grendel’s monstrous evils are repaid by the heroism of Beowulf who kills him for all the crimes Grendel has committed. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Journal 3


Journal 3 –Grendel the narrator
                Throughout Grendel’s narration, Grendel, we see the growth of Grendel through language. In the beginning of the novel, chapter two, Grendel’s attitude toward language is very na├»ve, with a small understanding of language. Grendel thinks that he speaks the human’s language but later comes to understand that they don’t understand him. Grendel starts to spend time observing the humans in order to pick up on their language. Often Grendel repeats the words that he hears around him; Grendel has little understanding of the words that he imitates. As Grendel grows in language, he often picks up on rude speech. Grendel uses these vulgar words as if they are a part of his everyday life.
As Grendel grows older, he slowly starts to grasp the language used by humans. Grendel’s first experience with the shaper introduces Grendel to the use of poetry; this is Grendel’s first major experience with language. After Grendel meets with the dragon, Grendel’s knowledge of poetry strengthens his use of language. Grendel uses poetry in his language to describe things in the story more interestingly. Grendel shows a major use of poetry when he introduces Hrothulf. Grendel describes Hrothulf in the story through poetic verses. As Grendel tells Hrothulf’s story he uses lines such as “Violence hacked this shack-filled hole in the woods where you play freedom games” (Gardner 114), to tell about the conversation between Hrothulf and Red horse. We can assume that Hrothulf doesn’t break out into poem in the middle of his speech; this leads us to think that it’s Grendel who is putting his own touch on the retelling of the event. Another major advancement in language Grendel makes is the ability to set up the chapter with Hrothulf like that of a play. Grendel says things such as “scene: Hrothulf in the woods,” giving reference to a set up like a play.
The second major step Grendel makes in his language is seen after his encounter with the dragon. After Grendel’s encounter, Grendel’s language changes drastically. The dragon also gives Grendel more knowledge on the usage of language; this is because Grendel better understands different words and phrases. Grendel also grows in the usage of the language with a better description of events. Later in the story, Grendel starts to include settings and descriptions of the characters that he sees. This is to give the reader a better idea of what is happening. Grendel displays a good example of this in his final battle against Beowulf.  Grendel gives great description of the battle shown in these lines “The meadhall is alive, great cavernous belly, gold-adorned, bloodstained, howling back at me, lit by flickering fire in the stranger’s eyes. He has wings” (Gardner 169).  In these lines Grendel shows to have mastered the language with advance vocabulary and good knowledge on how to describe events with excitement. This shows that Grendel has come to master the use of language. 

Journal 8




Parody Journal 8
                 Beowulf, an epic poem, is the story of Beowulf, a heroine, who saves the village of Herot from a monstrous fiend. The story of Beowulf depicts the values of heroism, loyalty, fairness, and glory. These values are deeply criticized in the story of “Grendel”, giving reason to acknowledge “Grendel” as a parody of Beowulf. A parody is a mocking imitation of a work of literature. Grendel presents these same values in a whole different perspective. These perspectives show how “Grendel” is a parody of Beowulf.
The story Beowulf depicts Grendel as an intelligent monster with the capability of basic human ability. However, in the story Grendel, we see another side of Grendel. Grendel is shown to be intelligent, with knowledge of poetry and philosophies. Beowulf also implies that Grendel is an emotionalist; in the story “Grendel” we see that this is not the case. Throughout the story Grendel we see different emotions displayed by Grendel such as sorrow, anger, and fear. Also seen throughout the story of “Grendel” is a different side of the story; where Grendel tries to communicate with the humans but is pushed away by the humans. This isolation for Grendel creates a sort of innocence for him, where we actually feel bad for Grendel. This mocks early views of Grendel in Beowulf where we see him as this emotionless monster.
The idea of glory and courage in Beowulf are viewed as honorable characteristics for a warrior to have. In “Grendel” we see these same characteristics but through the bloodshed and violence it creates. Grendel sees the remorseless fighting of the humans and compares them as worst then animals, saying that even wolves don’t kill their own kind. The idea of heroism is mocked by Grendel as he ridicules Unferth. Grendel kills all of the towns’ warriors in the meadhall, but Unferth. Unferth desperately desires to become a hero and sees the only way for him to become one is to die. Grendel tells Unferth that he thought heroes only existed in poetry, mocking the idea of a hero by sarcastically talking about thehardships of living up to the idea of a hero.  The values of fairness are also mocked in the story of “Grendel” through Hrothulf. Hrothulf, the nephew of the king, ridicules Herot for its separation of classes between the wealthy and the poor. He talks about how he wishes to take over the kingdom to create a government with true fairness for the people. These views presented by Hrothulf mock at the loyalty and fairness of the kingdoms.
“Grendel” by Gardener presents a different perspective than the one shown in Beowulf. “Grendel” pokes fun of the ideas of loyalty, courage, and heroisms; the story of Grendel shows the true chaos that follows these key values.  “Grendel” shows to be a true parody of Beowulf which presents a mocking imitation on the work of literature. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Journal 6


Journal 6
The techniques in “The Seafarer” and “The Wanderer” relate to Anglo-Saxon literature. Exile and destiny patterns show up in the works of Beowulf, “The Wanderer,” and “The Seafarer.” In these three literary works the use of journey and exile are portrayed, showing the values of the Anglo-Saxons.
                The use of exile is used in all three Angle Saxon works. In Beowulf, Beowulf exiles himself from his kingdom choosing to fight his battles alone. In the Anglo-Saxon belief those warriors of bravery and success are held in the highest regard. Beowulf believed that if he defeated his enemies on his own that he would boast himself as a warrior. In Beowulf’s final battle against the dragon ,he insists that “this fight is not yours, nor is it up to any man except to measure his strength against the monster or to prove his worth” (43 Heaney).  In “The Seafarer” the speaker exiles himself because of the love for the sea. The speaker talks about how earthly life is a preparation for heaven and the hope for heaven is consolation. Although the speaker notes that he cannot meet this goal of reaching heaven by living on the land because land is inferior to heaven. In the hope of gaining the joys of heaven, the seafarer exiles himself from earthly possession and wealth to live out at sea. The seafarer states, “And who could believe, knowing but the passion of cities, swelled proud with wine and taste of misfortune, how often, how wearily, I put myself back on the paths of sea” (86 Raffel), explaining  all the evils of living on land. Lastly the “The Wanderer” is about the speaker who exiled, from his home after a loss of his lord and friends after war time. The man is on a journey for a new lord and is sent out to sea. The speaker notes that “weary with winter I wandered out on the frozen waves, hoping to find a place, a people, a lord to replace” (104 Raffel), expressing his desire to no longer be lonely and to replace his lost friends.
                Journey’s elements were used in all three Anglo-Saxon literature works. Beowulf goes on a journey from his land of Sweden to save the Danes from Grendel’s attacks. Beowulf through battle with Grendel gained glory and defeated evil. Beowulf took pleasure in being the hero because it boasted his character. Also, in Anglo-Saxon time those of heroism were seen as more honorable and remembered as a great warrior. In Beowulf’s battle with Grende,l his purpose was “to win the good will of your people or die in battle, pressed in Grendel’s fierce grip”(30 Raffel) this demonstrates the great courage that Beowulf had to give his life to save that of those innocent people. The Seafarer goes on a journey to sea to escape the evils and temptations of land. The Seafarers sees that the sea is a better place for him to get closer to heaven allowing him to maintain a holy character. The Wanderer is sent on a journey for a search to find a new lord and friends. This is because he has recently lost his home and is on the search to start a new life. The journey for the Wanderer creates a very lonely journey for him because he sees himself as isolated. All three Anglo-Saxon literary pieces use the Anglo-Saxon values of loyalty and heroism.
                In all three Anglo-Saxon pieces Beowulf, “The Seafarer”, and “The Wanderer” make connection through the use of exile. The purpose of a journey in all three pieces is to search for purpose in their life. Beowulf’s purpose in his exile is to extinguish evil and to boast his character; this is to give him an image of heroism.  “The Seafarer” exiles himself to get closer to the path of heaven.  The Wanderer’s purpose in his exile is to create a new life after losing everyone including his lord after a time of war. The three pieces also create a journey where Beowulf goes on a journey to kill Grendel. “The Seafarer” goes on a journey to get closer to the heavens, and “The Wanderer” goes on a journey to find a new home.

Journal 10



Journal 10
                Grendel, the antagonist in the poem Beowulf, becomes the narrator in Grendel. In Beowuf Grendel is displayed as a monstrous being, evil, and a descendent of Cain; but in the book Grendel we see a much different portrayal of Grendel. In Grendel, Grendel is portrayed as innocent, immature, and even kind-hearted. This is shown when Grendel tries to do an act of kindness when seeing a dead body; Grendel tries to present the body to the people in the mead-hall. However, when Grendel presents himself, due to his image, he is chased out of the hall. Most readers would not have seen this side of Grendel if the story wasn’t from his personal account. Gardner may have done this purposely in his book in order to give the other side not given in Beowulf. The use of Grendel as the narrator allows us to enter a new world; allowing us to see the character through his mind and personal accounts. We come to see how Grendel became the way he is. Through the story Grendel evolves as this monstrous being.  In the beginning of the story we see the innocence and insecurity of Grendel when he yells at the ram to move. We learn, through Grendel, the reasons for his murderous rampage; where at first Grendel tries not to kill but after Grendels encounter with the Dragon he grows a new rage towards the humans. Gardner’s use of having Grendel as the narrator is the best way for him to tell the story. Who better to explain the character of Grendel than Grendel? This also allows us to get both sides of the story, not only through the human’s eyes but also through the monsters.
                Grendel being a monster affects the way he speaks greatly; in the beginning we see Grendel’s inexperience of language. Grendel repeats curse words when he gets mad that he doesn’t quite understand. In the first couple chapters Grendal has trouble speaking with the humans; where he repeats words that the humans don’t understand. It is not until Unferth that Grendel makes a successful conversation with a human. Later in the story we see Grendel‘s advancement in language and thought, where he shows his philosophies and theorems. Due to the fact that Grendel is a monster, he is isolated from humans and even his mother. This isolation cause the readers to have sympathy for Grendel that otherwise would not be given. Also, through this isolation Grendel experiences the human society through observation. We see a different side of humans, with a more monstrous side, where humans are described by Grendel as animals that have pointless battles killing one another with lack of remorse. However, if told by the point of view of a human, the act of war would symbolize loyalty and bravery.  Grendel grows through the story morally as a person. This is seen when he comes to the point where he spares life instead of taking it, much like in the beginning. Grendel spares Unferth mocking his true desires to become a hero. This shows that Grendel understands Unferth’s desires and finds more satisfaction in defeating him mentally rather than physically. We also see Grendel’s desire to not want to cross over to the side of the dragon. This is seen when he spares Wealtheow’s life, even though he has every intention to kill him. Grendel being a monster changes the course of the book.  The book is now written through the point of view of someone who is trying to adapt and understand humans; rather than humans themselves.  Grendel’s monstrous characteristics show a much different side to the story that if told   other way wouldn’t be demonstrated.