Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

 by John Gardner (1971).  Artists in society and the power of art  The importance of language  Nihilism (the rejection of all morality)  Death 

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: " by John Gardner (1971).  Artists in society and the power of art  The importance of language  Nihilism (the rejection of all morality)  Death "— Presentation transcript:

1  by John Gardner (1971)

2  Artists in society and the power of art  The importance of language  Nihilism (the rejection of all morality)  Death  Heroism (a mortal force)  Morality (the struggle between good and evil)

3  Grendel both imitates and ridicules specific forms of literature and authors  Beowulf—most of the plot and characters are borrowed  Grendel becomes a “case history of a bad artist” whose words are constantly misunderstood; thus, he inspires acts of violence v. the Shaper, who inspires great deeds.  Various character represent specific philosophies (Dragon, Hrothulf, Red Horse, etc.)

4  Twelve chapters—twelve years of Grendel’s raids and the twelve zodiacs  Not chronological—flashbacks, allusions, foreshadowing  Tense—present tense is interspersed with the past telling of events leading up to this twelfth year  Each chapter represents a different branch of philosophy

5 The text opens in April, the month of the ram. There is an immediate concern with language:  “Talking, talking. Spinning a web of words, pale dreams, between myself and all I see”  Grendel’s mother lives in a cave—mute and beastlike  When Grendel is trapped in the tree, the most important element is the encounter with the men, who speak a language (Chapter 2)

6  The summary of Grendel’s years watching the Danes, who are slowly developing civilization (Chapter 3)  Hrothgar becomes powerful because he has a theory about the purpose of war  The Shaper appears; he does more than make poetry; he retells history and inspires men  Also, the Shaper names Grendel one of the race of Cain, everything that is dark and evil—this is what Grendel becomes

7  Grendel visits the dragon, who tells him that the Shaper’s words are an “illusion of reality,” leading men to believe that there is meaning in the universe  The dragon denies the existence of God and meaning, and advised Grendel to “seek out gold and sit on it”  Grendel discovers that the dragon has put a “curse” on him: he can no longer be injured by men’s weapons  Grendel finds the “heroic” and idealistic Unferth, and in acting in unexpected ways, completely humiliates the would-be hero

8  When Unferth seeks Grendel in his cave, Grendel knows that life is meaningless  Grendel returns to engage in battle, and he returns Unferth unharmed, “so much for heroism”  The arrival of Wealtheow (“holy servant of the common good”) as a peace offering

9  Hrothgar’s nephew arrives after the murder of his father  Hrothulf’s resentful attitude and desire for power allows Grendel to ponder “the idea of violence”  The encounter with the priest leads to observations about religion  Grendel deals with boredom (Chapter 10)

10  Strangers arrive (Chapter 11)  Beowulf tells him about the cycles of existence before destroying him “Though you murder the world […] Strong searching roots will crack your cave and rain will cleanse it: The world will burn green, sperm build again. My promise”  However, Grendel attributes his end to a random accident

11  First encounter with men, “the most dangerous things” (Chapter 2)  Grendel is trapped in a tree  The men think that he is a fungus at first, and then a spirit that eats pigs  The king, in fear, attacks him with an ax  He is saved by his mother  Men are dangerous because “they think and scheme”

12  Grendel is emotionally affected by the songs, the lies (Chapter 3)  He feels torn between what he observes (i.e., reality) and what he hears (i.e., the beauty and idealism)

13  Hearing that he, himself, is considered the dark side of creation, he wishes to convert (Chapter 4)  He goes to the mead-hall, calling for mercy and peace, but is attacked  He wishes for someone to talk to  He returns because he is addicted  He wants the songs to be true, even if he has to be the outcast

14  The dragon says that Grendel inspires and improves the Danes (Chapter 5)  That if there were no Grendel, they would invent one—they need the monster  Thus, Grendel is irrelevant  It makes no difference if he stops or not

15  Grendel at first feels that the charm causes his enemies’ defeat (Chapter 6)  Then, he realizes that he has nothing to fear and nothing to stop him, so his raids become inevitable  He discovers the charm when he accidentally runs into a guard, trips, and is not hurt by the sword  He discovers a reason for his existence—he is now “Ruiner of Mead-halls, Wrecker of Kings”

16  Grendel’s feelings?  Beowulf’s trick?  Grendel’s defense of Beowulf’s superiority?  The whispering?  Explanation for defeat?  Amplifies fight details?  Beowulf’s image?  Grim humor?

17  Both Grendel and Unferth exhibit characteristics of the anti-hero

18  He murders and cannot be punished  He sneaks around at night, spying  He makes fun of the Danes and rejects all that they stand for  He searches for answers, but can find only meanness  He is crude, but not stupid or dishonest (he is successful in his feud, but a failure at finding happiness)  He says that he is angry very often

19  1-3 do not fit—while he did kill his brother, he has made restitution according to the law  4 He tries for greater heroism in chasing Grendel, but is forced to achieve an ideal that the Danes do not understand  5 He seems a failure as a hero, yet achieves an even more difficult kind of heroism by not giving up even when faced with humiliation (did not commit fraud and stupid mistakes in the past)  Yes, he is angry

20  Hrothgar  Unferth  Wealtheow  Beowulf

21  Grendel says that “tedium is the worst pain” as the sun walks overhead  He waits for the Shaper to die  The chapter is filled with references to the past and a dark future  Times passes slowly and boringly

22  That the Danes are fooled by the Shaper’s lies  That Unferth is a fool for clinging to his heroic ideals  That his war with Hrothgar is “an idiotic war” (Chapter 1)  That he, himself, is a “pointless, ridiculous monster” (Chapter 1)

23  Grendel describes himself as a shadow (Chapter 10) and as walking around the edges of the world, outside the mead-hall at dusk  Grendel plays a game of looking at himself as he postures, as standing outside himself (Chapter 1)  Also, Hrothulf’s arrival and encounter with the Priest read like scenes from a play

24  Grendel says often that he is stupid and that life is meaningless (and he tells the story)  He whispers and cannot be understood by the Danes (his language is older)  His voice is too loud and frightful to be understood  His killings, an expression of anger and the meaning of his tale that he summarizes at the close of Chapter 10: “Nihil ex nihilo”—“nothing comes from nothing”

Download ppt " by John Gardner (1971).  Artists in society and the power of art  The importance of language  Nihilism (the rejection of all morality)  Death "

Similar presentations

Ads by Google