How is the theme of isolation presented in Grendel?
Describe Grendel’s relationship with his mother.
Grendel is a novel driven by the main character's sense of isolation. Grendel cannot relate to his mother, whom he considers little more than a brute beast, nor can he make himself understood by the humans he encounters, even though he understands their speech. Grendel is a perpetual outsider, looking for a place to belong. His high-handed search for philosophical meaning is ultimately one more attempt to know who he is and where he belongs.
What motivates Grendel to attack the Scyldings?
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 the first, he battles the monster Grendel.
The dragon denies that there is such a thing as destiny, yet at the same time states that it knows Grendel's role in the universe. The dragon circumvents this seeming contradiction by claiming to see past, present, and future simultaneously: knowledge is not cause, nor is it evidence of some higher purpose. Grendel attempts to thwart the dragon's prophesied role for himself, but only ends up doing exactly what the dragon said he would. This would seem to place the novel firmly in the "fate" camp.
In the second, he battles Grendel's mother.
Conflict. As old as time itself is the struggle of the hero vs. an unstoppable foe (good vs. evil). We’ve seen it in the bible (David and Goliath), in ancient stories (Beowulf vs. Grendel), the Roman Gladiators, and throughout our history in battles and stories. It is ingrained in our society so much that even in our modern era, conflict still exists as a commonplace item (not counting wars – sports, video games, movies, etc.). Let’s examine the story of Beowulf vs. Grendel in this context (good vs. evil).If this doesn’t work for you, here is a link dedicated to essays on Beowulf-Good-vs-evil-Analysis
Thesis Statement on Grendel | Category: English
Grendel study guide contains a biography of John Gardner, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.