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whaat does Grendel's relationship with nature - the ram, the grass, the doe, the baby bird, owls, and wolves - reveal about his own character?
He shows contempt for nature, especially spring, because its life and rebirth undoes his destruction. He sees flowers as landmarks of past murders: "Here, I killed the old woman with the irongray hair. She tasted of urine and spleen, which made me spit. Sweet mulch for yellow blooms" (p.7). This reveals that Grendel is disturbed, pessimistic, morbid, and perhaps evil. It also shows his absurdist, existential outlook on life. We are but food for worms; there is no greater meaning behind life or death. He also says that he used to take pride in striking fear into innocent woodland creatures. His middle finger to the sky is a good depiction of his defiance to the prospect of any higher order or spiritual entity.
With whom does Grendel speak? What does this suggest? What is the author's purpose for this detail?
He speaks with the sky, which suggests Grendel's denial of a higher power (God, gods).
What is the significance of the scene wherein Grendel challenges the "dark chasms"?
Grendel is standing at the edge of a personal abyss. He has been confronted with the reality of true inner darkness - of evil, of death, of the lack of meaning in life.
What does Grnedel mean when he speaks of "playing cat and mouse with the universe"?
Constantly trying to start fights with the intention of receiving a reaction.
From Grendel's point of view, what is man?
Man is proud, vain, hopeful, dogmatic, and unobservant to the world around him. Grendel sees all of these traits in their constant rebuilding of the mead halls he destroys.
When Grendel flashes back to his early childhood, what is his relationship with the "large old shapes" and with his mother?
The large old shapes seem to look past him or through him. Only his mother truly looks at him. She looks at Grendel as if to consume him, and he has an inexplicable understanding that they are connected, possibly even a single entity. At times, however, the intensity of his mother's gaze causes Grendel to suddenly feel separate from her, and at those times he bawls and hurls himself at her. His mother responds by smashing him to her breast as if to make him part of her flesh again. Comforted by this gesture, Grendel can then go back to his exploratory games.
What is the significance of the scene where Grendel catches his foot in the crack of the tree trunks and is attacked by the bull? What is the paradox and irony of this situation?
This becomes the basis of Grendel's Philosophy of life; he sees the world as nothing but chaos and destruction. He views humans as the only creatures capable of complex thought and also the most dangerous thing he has encountered yet.
How does Grendel's first meeting with men affect him? Why does he fear them more than he fears the bull?
Humans are intelligent decision makers.
How is Grendel's world view and self-concerpt affected by his experience with men? How does this even affect his relationship with the "old shapes" and with his mother?
"The world resists me and I resist the world"(28).
As a detached observer, what does Grendel learn about Hrothgar and his theories? What shocks Grendel about man's behavior to other men and to nature? Why does Grendel feat Hrothgar?
Grendel discovers that Hrothgar is a powerful, influential king due to his theories and strategic warring. "He'd worked out a theory about what fighting was for, and now he no longer fought with his six closest neighbors (page 37)"; this quote shows Hrothgar's methods of gaining great power. He keeps the neighboring kingdoms as his allies and in a way, dogs on leashes by proving to them of his organizational skills (making roads, amassing a great army, etc.). What shocks Grendel are the constant, repeating bloodshed men bring upon each other. Grendel witnessed the same intimidations, provocative actions, and wars by men and is disgruntled by the pointless death and repetition. He's also shocked by how men treat other animals. "Sometimes a horse, mired to the waist, would give up and merely stand, head hanging, as if waiting for death, and the men would howl at it and cut it with whips, or throw stones, or club it with heavy limbs, until finally one of them came to his senses and calmed the others, and they would winch out the horse with ropes and wagon wheels, if they could, or else abandon the horse or kill it-first stripping off the saddle and bridle and the handsomely decorated harness (page 38)." The text testifies how cruelly and mindlessly men treated animals even if they were given the slightest reason to commit such actions. Grendel fears Hrothgar because of the Shaper. The Shaper has made Hrothgar so much more of a magnificent figure than he was before. In sense, the Shaper "shaped" Hrothgar's feats and reputation to a more amplified one, making Grendel fear the new and great Hrothgar by the skill of poetry and speech.
Why is Grendel so impressed and affected by the music of the shaper? Why does he fear the shaper?
"When he finished, the hall was as quiet as a mound. I too was silent, my ear pressed tight against the timbers. Even to me, incredibly, he had made it all seem true and very fine." (pg43) "What was he? The man had changed the world, had torn up the past by its thick gnarled roots and had transmuted it, and they, who knew the truth remembered it his way-and so did I." (pg 43) The Shaper impressed Grendel a lot because he had changed the whole meaning in the world with a song. His song brought meaning into his meaningless life. Grendel was impressed how the Shaper could make things sound all true and real. The Shaper, at the same time, also scared Grendel with his power to change everyone's belief and minds.
What connotations come with the world "lost"? Why does Grendel scream, "Lost!" and crawl on all fours as the chapter ends?
He has and knows nothing. Everything has changed.
Is there any significance to the fact that Gardner changes the word "scop" from the Old English to "shaper" in Grendel? Why do you think he does this?
The shaper shapes the past stories into his own truth.
Explain the irony of Gredel's response to the men who were exiled from man.
He judges the exiles even though he is an exile himself.
Grendel is able to understand the language of man, but man cannot understand him. Why do you suppose this is?
This is because he is part man, but man is not part beast.
Why does Hrothgar build Heorot, the Hall of the Hart?
It is a sign of the glory and justice of Hrothgar and his Danes.
How does the Shaper's music affect Grendel? What is ironic about this?
He sees the goodness of man and his own evil. Page 48
How does the story of Cain and Able affect Grendel? What is the irony of the sotyr of Cain and Able?
The role the Shaper assigns to Grendel both pleases and upsets him. On one hand, Grendel takes most of the Shaper's songs with a grain of salt, as he is aware of the songs' fictional quality. Grendel knows that man cannot be as holy as the Shaper suggests, because he himself has seen evidence of humankind's brutality on numerous occasions—if Grendel is cursed, so is man. It takes effort for Grendel to remember these considerations, and finally he breaks down, weeps, and experiences a "conversion"—a word that suggests that Grendel accepts the Shaper's religious vision. To Grendel, the story of God may be a lie, but it is a beautiful one. In this Judeo-Christian system, the outsider Grendel finds a place and a purpose, even though that position is a savage, unsavory one. Grendel is not allowed to join the humans as a brother or a friend, but he can join them, paradoxically, by fighting them.
How does Grendel know how to use profanity? What is the irony in this?
Grendel knows profanity through listening to men, this is ironic because men are supposedly "good".
How does the dragon's mind differ from Grendel's and from men's?
He is omniscient and sees into the past, present, and future.
What is the dragon's ambition? What is his final advice? What is his motto?
To count and sort his treasure. Know thyself. seek out gold and sit on it.
According to Unferth what is heroism? What is poetry?
"sees values values beyond what is possible" (89) not afraid to face cruel truth (88) trash, mere clouds of words, comfort to the hopeless" (88)
Why doesn't Grendel kill Unferth? How does this affect Unferth?
It curses Unferth with Grendel's solitude, in the fact he is never the one who dies. Unferth becomes bitter.
How is Wealtheow like the Shaper's songs? How is she different?
She gives her life for those she loves, but she is still just a human.
How doesn't Grendel rape, torture, and murder Wealtheor? Or Does he?
He convinces himself out of his attraction to her. 110
What is the parallel between Wealtheow and Grendel's mother?
Grendel sees their goodness but does not comprehend them.
What threats surround Hrothgar after Hrothulf's arrival? How is Hrothulf like a scorpion?
Too man heirs, rivalry. He is a poisonous loner
What is the significance of Grendel calling himself "the destroyer"?
the destroyer will supposedly kill Grendel.
What is the significance of Grendel's encounter with Ork? What does Ork have to say about the King of the Gods and about the nature of evil?
All good virtue creates purpose "time is perpetually perishing, and being actual involves elimination" (132)
Why is Grendel so frightened and so infuriated by the goat?
The goat has no reason. He is pure stupidity.
How does the Shaper's death affect Grendel?
The Shaper's stories were Grendel's portal into history. It wasn't like Grendel could go to his nearest public library and take out a book. The Shaper gave Grendel a sense of history, true or untrue, that he did not have. History gives meaning to our past, present and future. Why should it not do the same for Grendel? For Grendel the Shaper legitimized Hrothgar's rule and even his own lineage (Shaper claimed that Grendel was descended from Cain). It was this loss of historical context that saddened Grendel. History, for Grendel, no longer had meaning after the Shaper died.
What does Grendel come to understand about the "dark realities" of self and the world?
Everyone must die in time 157 and he was made to live and die evil
Things fade; alternatives exclude
nothing is important because it all becomes the past, but outer forces change the future therefore are important.
How do illusion and words help cause Grendel's death?
Grendel imagines Beowulf as the dragon and the words of the dragon confuse and distract him, making him no longer invincible.
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