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Beowulf is an epic poem that is staged in the period AD 700 to AD 1000. The poem has three main antagonists namely; the dragon, Grendel and the mother to Grendel. There are many views among scholars on how Grendel is depicted in the poem but most agree that he is brought out as a monster (Cawson, 38).
Grendel is described by the poet as a descendant of the Biblical character Cain in lines 105-114. The monster nature of Grendel is revealed by his preoccupation of attacking Mead Hall Heorot and not only killing the innocent people there but also eating them. The story unfolds when Beowulf moves out of Greatland on a mission to seek out Grendel in a bid to bring him to justice (Cawson, 38).
However, some scholars hold the view that Grendel was not necessarily the monster that most take him to be. For instance, He usually attacked the hall when he felt disturbed by the drunkards who were making too much noise. It can therefore be argued that Grendel was in fact trying to help the other people who were voiceless. Nonetheless, he still did it in a barbaric way (Cawson, 38).
The battle that ensues between Beowulf and Grendel is fierce and lengthy. Eventually, Beowulf manages to inflict serious harm on Grendel when he rips off his arm. After wounding Grendel, He goes a step further to fight with Grendel’s mother. As fate would have it, Beowulf eventually has his victory by slaying both mother and child and he subsequently cuts of Grendel’s head and keeps it as a trophy (Cawson, 39).
When all is said and done, it is not clear whether Grendel used to attack the hall out of greed or in pursuit of revenge. However, it is evident that even though he was feared by all, he eventually met his match who not only fought but also conquered him.
Cawson, Frank. The Monsters in the Mind: The Face of Evil in Myth, Literature, and Contemporary Life. Sussex, England: Book Guild, 1995.