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Grendel by John Gardner Key Symbols and the Philosophies that Illustrate Grendel’s Search for Meaning.

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Presentation on theme: "Grendel by John Gardner Key Symbols and the Philosophies that Illustrate Grendel’s Search for Meaning."— Presentation transcript:

1 Grendel by John Gardner Key Symbols and the Philosophies that Illustrate Grendel’s Search for Meaning

2 Chapter One: Aries the Ram Symbol of Spring and the Proliferation of Life Philosophy: Orphism—the endless cycles of life a. Grendel deals death in the war with Hrothgar b. He faces his mortality when he speaks of chasms c. He longs for meaning, but rejects it as meaningless d. He sees the funeral scene: the celebrants of the cycle

3 Orphism Zeus and Persephone had a son, Dionysus Zagreus, whom Zeus wanted to make ruler of the Universe. This angered the Titans so they killed him. Athena, though, saved the kid’s heart which Zeus ate. He then destroyed the Titans with a lightning bolt. The Human race rose from these ashes.

4 More Orphism Humans are part Dionysus (divine) and part Titan (evil). This double nature is essential to Orphism. Humans are divine by nature, but it is only through ritual that the soul can be liberated from its Titanic ancestry and achieve eternal blessedness.

5 Journal Quick Write How is Plato’s Allegory of the Cave reflected in chapter 2?

6 Chapter Two: Taurus the Bull Philosophy: Solipsism and Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” from The Republic –Grendel likens himself to a puppy, happily playing, innocent, self-centered, solipsistic. “I alone exist” (22); “I create the universe blink by blink” (22).

7 –He leaves the underground cave, through the pool of “fire- snakes”,venturing first up to moonlight; later, he emerges into sunshine and painful knowledge of the world. He begins to grow up.

8 –His encounter with the bull, the tree, and men: He discovers that his mother cannot hear him. He sees the bull operates by instinct. He sees that men are “dangerous,” “pattern makers.”

9 When he returns to the cave his life is irrevocably altered. Grendel can reason, but he can not communicate.

10   3 Gemini the Twins. Gemini is flexible, versatile, restless, a jack-of-all-trades, lively, alert, quick-witted, literary, communicative, a good conversationalist, changeable, sociable, logical, ingenious, agile, dexterous, intellectual, and mentally ambitious.

11 Chapter Three: Gemini the Twins  Application of Symbol: Twin sheep and goats, the two shapers, and Grendel’s torn nature: he knows the truth about men, but the new Shaper’s art mesmerizes him.

12 Sophism  The word sophist at one time simply meant poet; by the 5 th century B.C.E., the term applied to intellectuals, particularly one who received a fee for his knowledge.

13  Structure of the Chapter:  Grendel watches men from the safety of trees, sees their destructiveness, notes Hrothgar’s strategy for expanding his power: his roads and ability to get tribute from other tribes.  Grendel realizes the Shaper creates illusions; however, he longs for the “lies” of the Shaper’s vision.

14  How does Grendel distinguish himself from men?  Why Does he long for the Shaper’s vision?  Why, ultimately, does Sophism fail?

15  Why does Grendel reflect,”Thus I fled, ridiculous hairy creature torn apart by poetry...” (44)?

16 Chapter 4 Cancer the Crab. Cancer is introverted, reserved, emotional, sensitive, moody, sympathetic, security-conscious, prudent, retentive, domestic, maternal, protective, quiet, calm, imaginative, conscientious, and quite the traditionalist.

17 Chapter Four: Cancer the Crab Philosophy: Old Testament basic values: good vs. evilPhilosophy: Old Testament basic values: good vs. evil Symbols: Crab and home are synonymous.Symbols: Crab and home are synonymous. –Crab’s shell gives it protection and retreat from threats –The snake: many references to a “presence” that hisses, hints at, tempts Grendel to seek out the void and the darkness of the dragon

18 Structure of the Chapter:Structure of the Chapter: –The building of Heorot in response to the Shaper’s song—a sign of the glory and permanence of a great civilization –Grendel speaks to the snake about the Danes’ past: “I knew him when!” (48). –He hears the Shaper’s story of creation from the book of Genesis and the story of the division between good and evil, Abel and Cain, thus believing in his own guilt though guiltless –He seeks forgiveness at the mead hall, but is misunderstood because his physical appearance and strange language frightens the people. –He rejects men: “Let them wander the fogroads of Hell” (53). –He seeks out the “invisible presence” following him throughout the chapter; he drops into the void and darkness to encounter the dragon.

19 –He seeks forgiveness at the mead hall, but is misunderstood because his physical appearance and strange language frightens the people. –He rejects men: “Let them wander the fogroads of Hell” (53). –He seeks out the “invisible presence” following him throughout the chapter; he drops into the void and darkness to encounter the dragon.

20 Chapter Five: Leo the Lion Symbol: The lion—king of animals Philosophy: Nihilism—the belief in nothingness (See the links below) Structure: Grendel goes to the underworld for advice and knowledge, much as Odysseus goes to the underworld to seek information from Tiresias. He emerges armed with despair. The Dragon has omniscience, but offers Grendel no redeeming vision of the world. His only advice? Seek out gold and sit on it. This approach suggests that material goods are the only thing that gives meaning to life.

21 5 Leo the Lion. Leo is ambitious, a lover of limelight, speculative, extroverted, optimistic, honorable, dignified, confident, proud, exuberant, sunny, flamboyant, charismatic, dramatic, competitive, a leader and an organizer.

22 The black sun—Grendel sees deeply into the dragon’s eye and sees nothing, a void The dragon is golden and fiery as a lion. The dragon suggests that the quest for meaning ends in nothiningness because nothing will remain except a silent universe. This anticipates the discovery of matter speeding up after the ‘bang” and the universe stretching out to nothingness. He understands time and space, and the connectedness of all.

23 Chapter 6: Virgo the Virgin Virgo the Virgin. Virgo is practical, responsible, sensible, logical, analytical, highly discriminating, a careful planner, precise and punctual, dedicated, perfectionist, critical, and health conscious.

24 Chapter 6: Virgo the Virgin Symbol: Unferth, thwarted virgin, wants to fight Grendel, but is concerned only with himself. Symbol: Unferth, thwarted virgin, wants to fight Grendel, but is concerned only with himself. Philosophy: Egotism sometimes called Objectivism Philosophy: Egotism sometimes called Objectivism Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his lifeMan—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life

25 Structure of the Chapter: Structure of the Chapter: Grendel discovers the charm; nothing can harm him, and his “heart becomes darker because of that” (76). It is harvest time in the first year of his war with Hrothgar.Grendel discovers the charm; nothing can harm him, and his “heart becomes darker because of that” (76). It is harvest time in the first year of his war with Hrothgar. Grendel kills a guard, eating him, horrifying the Danes, reacting himself with :a strange, unearthly joy. He feels reborn. “I was Grendel, Ruiner of Mead Halls, Wrecker of Kings!,” he says (80). He realizes also, “as never before,” that he is “alone” (80).Grendel kills a guard, eating him, horrifying the Danes, reacting himself with :a strange, unearthly joy. He feels reborn. “I was Grendel, Ruiner of Mead Halls, Wrecker of Kings!,” he says (80). He realizes also, “as never before,” that he is “alone” (80). Unferth comes forth to challenge him, speaking in lofty, formal language about how he is going to send Grendel to hell.Unferth comes forth to challenge him, speaking in lofty, formal language about how he is going to send Grendel to hell. Unferth swims down to the mere; he fails in his mission to kill GrendelUnferth swims down to the mere; he fails in his mission to kill Grendel Grendel returns Unferth to the mead hall; Grendel kills two more people to prove that he Grendel was there.Grendel returns Unferth to the mead hall; Grendel kills two more people to prove that he Grendel was there. Unferth futilely attempts to kill Grendel through the years, “crazy with shame” (90).Unferth futilely attempts to kill Grendel through the years, “crazy with shame” (90).

26 1 Aries the Ram. Aries is energetic, innovative, original, pioneering, assertive, quick-tempered, strong drive, leader, ambitious, extroverted, sometimes aggressive, competitive, enthusiastic, self-reliant, and self- assured.

27 2 Taurus the Bull. Taurus is determined, efficient, stubborn, cautious, placid, persistent, enduring, introverted, conservative, conventional, materialistic, security conscious, stable, industrious, dependable, and one generally having significant financial ability.

28 3 Gemini the Twins. Gemini is flexible, versatile, restless, a jack-of- all-trades, lively, alert, quick-witted, literary, communicative, a good conversationalist, changeable, sociable, logical, ingenious, agile, dexterous, intellectual, and mentally ambitious.


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