by John Gardner
Grendel essay questions.
How does Gardner make the reader sympathetic toward Grendel?
By adopting Grendel’s point of view, and by making the monster more an adolescent than a fully formed adult creature, Gardner draws the reader into Grendel’s personal quest for understanding his place in the universe. By depicting Grendel’s earliest encounters with the sunlit world as random acts of violence toward him, Gardner gives Grendel a motive for his anger and frustration toward humanity and the world in general.
In what way is Grendel’s quest for a place in the cosmos cyclical in nature?
Grendel begins the novel reflecting that his twelve-year war is essentially the same year of conflict repeated over and over again. He begins the novel attempting to define his place in the universe as its creator—the universe is a product of his own imagination. By the end of the novel, Grendel has rejected alternative ideologies but is forced by the stranger to “create” the wall he has been rammed into so violently. Grendel ends the novel creating a world of pain for himself, just as he began.
How is religion portrayed in Grendel ?
Grendel’s observations about human religion tend to focus on the hypocritical nature of human interaction with divinities. The Shaper is a religious figure in many ways, but Grendel and the human audience both know the words he sings are not true, even as they believe them. The priests who accost Ork at the circle of gods also betray their hypocrisy. They cannot accept that Ork has actually interacted with the very gods they represent, even to the point of considering Ork’s fanaticism as possible problem for their reputations.
What does the dragon represent in the novel?
The dragon espouses an existentialist philosophy to Grendel, but that philosophy is so incomprehensible to Grendel that his meaning is all but lost. The dragon identifies Grendel as an oppositional force to Hrothgar and humanity—but an oppositional force that pushes humanity toward progress. Although Grendel wishes to reject the dragon’s views, he eventually does exactly what the dragon says he will do, proving the dragon’s claim to know past, present, and future simultaneously.
What is the role of art in Grendel ?
Art is present in the novel in various forms. The Shaper is an artist who creates worlds with his words. The priests create religious art when they carve their gods from stone and wood. Ultimately, even Grendel is an artist. He has been the creative force behind Hrothgar’s rise to power, and in the end must devise an impromptu poem affirming the reality of material things. Art is a force that can deceive or enlighten, but ultimately the main purpose of art in Grendel is to be experienced and appreciated.
How is the theme of isolation presented in Grendel ?
Grendel is an outcast due to his physical appearance and his inability to communicate with human beings. Although he knows their speech and thus realizes he is connected to them, Grendel cannot make himself understood to any but a select few humans, who themselves become outcasts in the process. Unferth dialogues with Grendel and comes to understand him somewhat, but in the process, he loses his faith in the heroic ideal and the respect of his fellow men. Ork also has no difficulty understanding Grendel’s speech, but his interaction with his “god” separates him even further from his fellow priests. Even Hrothgar is isolated by the end of the novel; he sits alone on his throne, waiting for the day when Wealtheow will tire of him, or Hrothulf will replace him. Even the coming of the stranger only serves to accentuate Hrogthgar’s otherness, as he is merely an observer and host, while his warriors and queen interact with the fifteen heroes.
Describe Grendel’s relationship with his mother.
Grendel mostly feels pity for his mother, but often covers it up with frustration and anger. He cannot understand her strange noises and takes them for imbecility. She is more animal than human, and thus is of a separate order from Grendel, who comprehends human speech, emotions, and motives. Nonetheless, Grendel sees her as his protector on a primal level: when he is being tortured at the oak tree, he calls out for his mother and she arrives. When he is mortally wounded by Beowulf, he cries for her again before stumbling away to bleed to death in her arms.
How does Grendel portray Hrothgar?
Hrothgar begins the novel as Grendel's nemesis, a man of violence who seeks to destroy that which he does not understand. Later, he becomes a parallel to Grendel, creating politically what Grendel attempts to create philosophically. The two characters' lives continue running parallel, as Grendel becomes bored with his violent, random existence at the same time that Hrothgar wearies of his political role. Both Hrothgar and Grendel see their successor. For Hrothgar, it is Hrothulf, and for Grendel, it is Beowulf.
What motivates Grendel to attack the Scyldings?
Grendel begins his assault on the Scyldings' home Herot as an act of vengeance against their rejection of and attack upon him. His deeper motivation, however, is to prove his philosophical view that he, Grendel, is the center and creator of his universe. Grendel wants to demonstrate that the dragon's words are wrong, and that he is not merely a monster placed in the Scyldings' path to drive them toward progress.
Why is Grendel fascinated by the stranger from overseas?
Grendel has never seen anyone like this strange man. He cannot help but notice that the man is built differently than any of the Scyldings; his muscles move in such a way as to belie their immense power. This stranger frightens Grendel, since he knows no weapon of the Scyldings can harm him but cannot account for the stranger’s sheer physical strength. In addition, Grendel may see in the stranger his own doom and a final act of self-destruction that he has long avoided.
Grendel Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Grendel is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
What do the following lines from chapter 4 (paragraph 2) mainly reveal about Grendel in relation to the Danes? I listened, huddled in the darkness, tormented, mistrustful. I knew them, had watched them; yet the things he said seemed true. He sent to far
C. Grendel wishes he could be accepted by the Danes.
Note in chronological order the two acts of revenge that Hrothgar describes in Section XX.
I'm sorry, Section 20? The novel, Grendel , is divided into chapters.
Note in chronological order the two acts of revenge that Hrothgar describes in section XX. For each act, explain who killed who and why they did it
This is only a short answer space.
Study Guide for Grendel
Grendel study guide contains a biography of John Gardner, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
- About Grendel
- Grendel Summary
- Character List
Essays for Grendel
Grendel essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Grendel.
- Existential Philosophy in John Gardner's Grendel
- Pain of Isolation
- Grendel's Darkness
- Astrological Signs as Symbols in Grendel
- The Consequences of Grendel's Solipsism
Lesson Plan for Grendel
- About the Author
- Study Objectives
- Common Core Standards
- Introduction to Grendel
- Relationship to Other Books
- Bringing in Technology
- Notes to the Teacher
- Related Links
- Grendel Bibliography
Wikipedia Entries for Grendel
- Film adaptations
63 pages • 2 hours read
A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.
- Chapters 1-3
- Chapters 4-6
- Chapters 7-9
- Chapters 10-12
- Character Analysis
- Symbols & Motifs
- Important Quotes
Analyze Gardner’s use of humor. How does it enhance the pathos of Grendel’s experience? How does it detract from the emotion?
Describe Grendel’s relationship with his mother. How might a psychoanalytic reading of the novel as a whole interpret this relationship?
Some scholars consider Grendel a postmodern masterpiece. Consider the characteristics of postmodernism, and evaluate this statement.
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Essay topics for Grendel
Below I am providing you with 5 essay topics. The first four are all based on an interview with John Gardner. You are also free to create an essay topic of your own choice. Either way, you are expected to use textual evidence from the novel to support your argument. You may choose to analyze any other theme, motif, etc. and/or scene.
1. “The human dramas that interest me—stir me to excitement and, loosely, vision—are always rooted in serious philosophical questions. That is, I’m bored by plots that depend on the psychological or sociological quirks of the main characters—mere melodramas of healthy against sick—stories that, subtly or otherwise, merely preach…most of fiction’s great heroes are at least slightly crazy…So, when I write a piece of fiction I select my characters and settings and so on because they have a bearing, at least to me, on the old unanswerable philosophical questions. And as I spin out the action, I’m always very concerned with springing discoveries—actual philosophical discoveries. But at the same time I’m concerned—and finally more concerned—with what the discoveries do to the character who makes them, and to the people around him.” Discuss a great philosophical questions in Grendel. Is it ever answered? Does Grendel come to terms with it? Does the reader?
2. “When you tell the story of Grendel…you’ve got to end it the way the story ends— traditionally, but you can get to do it in your own way. The result is that the writer [and the reader] come to understand things about the modern world in light of the history of human consciousness; he understands it a little more deeply….” Does the ending to Grendel help the reader understand the modern world more deeply? How so?
3 “…there is no way an animator, or anyone else, can create an image from Grendel as exciting as the image in the reader’s mind: Grendel is a monster, and living in the first person, because we’re all in some sense monsters, trapped in our own language and habits of emotion. Grendel expresses feelings we all feel—enormous hostility, frustration, disbelief, and so on, so that the reader, projecting his own monster, projects a monster that is, for him, the perfect horror show. ” Is Grendel more human than even he understands? Does this unspoken conflict create sympathy and/or empathy in the reader? Do we come to understand, even excuse Grendel because we see ourselves — our inner monster — in him?
4. Select a scene from the novel and analyze it, addressing its importance to the overall meaning of the novel. May I suggest one of the following: a) The opening scene in chapter one when Grendel curses at the ram, the sky, the animals and addresses the absurdity of life. b) chapter 2 as he hangs from the tree and understands “that the world was nothing. . . .that, finally and absolutely, [he] alone exists” c) The scene in chapter 6 when he kills a man, on purpose for the first time d) The scene in chapter 10 when Grendel kills the goat
5. Topic of your own choice. You may analyze the religious motifs throughout the novel. Pose a thematic question. Compare and contrast Grendel in the Epic Beowulf and the Grendel that we meet in the novel. You may choose to analyze a scene and explore its significance to the novel as a whole.
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Gardner's Grendel FRQ #3 Essay Prompts for AP Lit Open Ended Response
Grendel : Final Project & Essay Prompt (Argumentative Essay )
Beowulf and Grendel Comparison Essay Prompt
Grendel Lesson Plans. Grendel Unit, Jon Gardner, 75 pages.
Grendel Novel Unit & Literature Guide
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Beowulf Part II: Second Battle ( Grendel 's mother)
Beowulf Unit: Essay Prompt , Study Guide, Quote Journal, Quiz
Beowulf Part I: Battle with Grendel
Grendel Personal Narrative Essay
Beowulf and Grendel Essay
Grendel Literature Guide
Grendel by John Gardner: Motif Analysis Paragraph Slide Guide
Grendel Motif Analysis Paragraph Writing Lessons and Activities Mini Bundle
BEOWULF [ ESSAY EXAM]
Grendel Motif Analysis Paragraph: Writing Unit Lessons and Activities
Beowulf Writing Prompt : Heroes and Villains
Beowulf Themes and Reading Scaffold Part 1 of 2
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Grendel Essays Plot Overview
Grendel, a massive bearlike monster, has spent the remaining twelve years locked in a warfare in opposition to a band of people. the main action of Grendel takes place in the ultimate yr of that battle, but the novel skips returned in time in an effort to remove darkness from the origins of the battle as well as Grendel’s private records.
As a young monster, Grendel lives together with his mother in a cave on the outskirts of human civilization. a nasty, wretched creature who lengthy in the past abandoned language, Grendel’s mother is his simplest relatives or accomplice. someday, the young Grendel discovers a lake full of firesnakes and, swimming via it, reaches the human international on the other side. On one in every of his early explorations he unearths himself stuck in a tree. A bull after which a band of people assault Grendel before his mom rescues him.
Grendel turns into taken with the sector of men, looking from a secure distance as mankind evolves from a nomadic, tribal lifestyle into a feudal machine with roads, governments, and militaries. he is alternately befuddled by using their movements and disgusted by means of their wasteful, brute violence. Grendel watches as Hrothgar of the Danes (additionally called the Scyldings, after an illustrious ancestor) develops into the maximum powerful king within the region.
Finally, Hrothgar’s power and fortune entice the services of the Shaper, a court docket bard who sings glorious tales of Danish kings and heroes. even though the Shaper’s songs are best in part based totally on fact, their ingenious visions of a supremely ordered ethical global are especially effective and invigorating. inspired with the aid of the Shaper’s words, Hrothgar builds a fantastic meadhall and names it Hart. Even Grendel, who has witnessed the real, savage history of the Danes, reveals the Shaper’s imaginative and prescient extremely seductive and will become ashamed at his own brute, bestial nature.
Grendel, increasingly more disappointed by way of his break up feelings approximately the Shaper, visits a dragon looking for a few advice. The dragon belittles the Shaper and proclaims all ethical and philosophical structures useless and beside the point. Grendel regularly adopts this worldview and will become enraged on the human beings. He starts offevolved to raid Hart systematically, initiating the twelve-year conflict. In his first battle, Grendel handily defeats Unferth, one among Hrothgar’s mightiest thanes (or soldiers), and adds insult to harm by way of scoffing at Unferth’s romantic ideas of heroism.
Different kings increasingly more threaten Hrothgar, who preemptively tries to assault one in all them: Hygmod, king of the Helmings. on the way to keep away from a war, Hygmod offers Hrothgar the hand of his sister, Wealtheow, in marriage. Hrothgar accepts, and Wealtheow will become the plenty loved queen of the Scyldings, bringing a new experience of peace and concord to the vulgar, masculine international of Hart. The lovable queen in short enraptures Grendel, and handiest a midnight attack and a cold, misogynistic take a look at her genitals rids him of her spell.
A few years later, Hrothgar’s brother Halga is killed, and Halga’s orphaned son, Hrothulf, comes to live at Hart. Hrothgar and Wealtheow have already got sons in their own, and the presence of so many possible heirs to the Scylding throne makes Wealtheow frightened. Hrothulf, for his component, is disgusted via the cut up he sees between the laboring class and nobility, and he plans a revolutionary overthrow of the government. Hrothulf’s counselor, a peasant named crimson Horse, tries to persuade Hrothulf that each one governments are inherently evil and that a revolution merely replaces one corrupt device with some other.
In the winter of the final yr of the battle, Grendel watches a Scylding spiritual ceremony. while all of the other clergymen have left, Grendel meets an old, blind priest and pretends to be the very best Scylding deity, called the Destroyer. Grendel asks the vintage priest, Ork, to mention what he knows about the Destroyer, and okaygives him a complex metaphysical gadget he has spent years operating out. okayis almost moved to a nation of ecstasy by means of the enjoy, and a puzzled Grendel withdraws as three more youthful monks come to chastise alrightfor his ordinary behavior. A fourth priest meets them and is extremely joyful on the information of Ork’s vision.
Later the same winter, the Shaper dies. Grendel experiences an growing feeling of dread, though he can't region it or puzzle it out. His mother senses it also, and though she attempts caution Grendel, she will simplest produce the gibberish phrase “Warrovish,” which Grendel later deciphers to mean “beware the fish.” Fifteen strangers arrive from over the sea: they're Geats, and their leader is Beowulf, who has come to rid the Scyldings of Grendel. Grendel knows that the Geats are what he has been anticipating, and he is alternately worried and excited. The Scyldings are none too thrilled at Beowulf’s arrival, and that night at dinner, Unferth taunts Beowulf for famously having lost a swimming contest. Beowulf coldly responds that Unferth has been misled, and calmly broadcasts that Unferth is doomed to hell because he killed his very own brothers.
When the Geats and the Scyldings fall asleep, Grendel assaults Hart. Beowulf manages to surprise Grendel and grabs his arm. As they warfare, Grendel slips on a pool of blood, and Beowulf profits the upper hand. Beowulf starts offevolved whispering madly in Grendel’s ear. Grendel actions inside and out of a sequence of hallucinations in which he sees Beowulf sprouting an huge pair of wings. Beowulf smashes Grendel in opposition to a wall, cracking his head open and stressful that he “sing of walls.” Beowulf manages to tear Grendel’s arm off at the shoulder, and Grendel runs off into the night. He unearths himself at the threshold of a cliff, staring down into its darkish, murky depths. a bunch of animals gather around Grendel, seeming to sentence him, and the radical closes as Grendel whispers to them, “poor Grendel’s had an coincidence. . . . So can also you all.”
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