The Character of Grendel

Interesting and unusual are the words to describe the character Grendel. The novel is told in his point of view with his narration. Although he looks, and is, a monster, he is akin to man. Throughout his life, he understands their language and studies them. He is very interested in mankind. His point of view provides the reader to see more clearly what it means to live as Homo sapiens. Grendel has adapted to his way of life in the forest and his home in the cave. All of his life he has never had anyone to talk and communicate with except his mother. When he first encounters men, he is awed and interested in them. Grendel realizes he can understand their language. “The sounds were foreign at first, but when I calmed myself, concentrating, I found I understood them: it was my own language, but spoken in a strange way.” (23) This makes Grendel and the men similar to each other because of the language they share. Now he understands he can listen and study their foreign culture and ways of living.

When Grendel observes humans, he thinks they are strange in the way they live. He pays close attention and listens to the humans talk about his attacks because they thought were caused by an angry god. Grendel watches as the humans burn the dead bodies and sing a song around the fire. He is angry because it seems like a song of triumph to him. This is one of many parts of the novel where the humans turn to religion. It happens again later when Grendel pretends to be a great God called The Destroyer. This affects the oldest priest, Ork, greatly because of his conversation with Grendel who he believes is the God. This shows how humans look towards God and religion itself as a guideline and support in their lives. A big part of the novel is the Shaper. Grendel observes him for years. The big thing the Shaper does is influence everyone around him. He does this with his beautiful, meaningful, poetic songs with his harp. Most of which that are lies …

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