Zachary Braund
World Literature
Professor Julie Austin
Beowulf and Grendel :
The Essence of t he Relationship Modernly Compared and Exemplified

The story Beowulf is the multifaceted tale of a man, a hero, who travels from his nat ive lands in search of Hrothgar's legendary mead hall which has been said to be under siege by Grendel, a hideous man eating descendant of Cain. Beowulf succeeds in defeating Grendel and then continues on to defeat Grendel's mother . Beowulf and his kingdom are able to live in peace for many years before the dragon enters the story in part 3 of the book. Through battle, Beowulf and the dragon are each other's downfalls. Many themes can be found in the story Beowulf ; however, it is much more difficult to find themes that apply to non-fictional people and situations that occur in modern times and are specific to Beowulf and Grendel. In order to find a non-fictional theme present in Beowulf that can be encountered in modern times, it was necessary to analyze the very essence of the characters Beowulf and Grendel. The essence of Beowulf and Grendel's relationship can be compared to modern day relationsh ip s between warrior s and their motivations for war (heroes or villains) , and to the modern day relationship between hunters and their prey. Because of these previous examples, Beowulf and Grendel's relationship is relative to non-fictional modern day characters.
Beowulf is a hero and a champion who left his homeland and risked all to seek out a legendary beast and slay it . Beowulf was heroic because of his bravery. He was willing to fight Grendel without any weapons even though he had never faced Grendel before and was unsure if Grendel would be using weapons. In verse s 605-613 Beowulf proclaims, "I am no weaker in works of war, no less a grappler than Grendel himself. Soon I shall sink him into his death-sleep, not with my sword but solely by strength." Also, Beowulf fought Grendel even though he was fully aware that he may die trying to carry out the deed. In verse s 567-571 Beowulf proclaims, "When I set my ship to sail on the sea and steered her hence with my squadron of swords, I swore to fulfill the will of the Scyldings or die in the deed, fall with the slain, held fast by the foe, my last day lived out here in your hall." Opposite of Beowulf, Grendel is a villain and a monster whose rage enslaves him and causes him to kill innocent beings . Near the beginning of the story we can see that Grendel is a villainous warrior capable of supreme evil. The narrator describes Grendel's murderous nature in Verses 102-110, "After nightfall he nosed around Heorot, saw how swordsmen slept in the hall, unwary and weary with wine and feasting, numb to the sorrows suffered by men. The cursed creature, cruel and remorseless, swiftly slipped in. He seized thirty thanes asleep after supper, shouldered away what trophies he would, and took to his lair pleased with the plunder, proud of his murders. It is clear from the previous passages that Beowulf and Grendel are warriors. One is motivated by glory and the other is motivated by rage. These motivations are commonplace in today's society and are most commonly found in times of war. Because of Beowulf and Grendel's motivations for conflict and the existence of those motivations in modern day wartime, Beowulf and Grendel's relationship is relative to non-fictional modern day characters.
Another modern day relationship comparison from the story Beowulf is the relationship between a hunters and their prey. In the story Beowulf, both Beowulf and Grendel possess attributes of both the hunter and the prey. Before Beowulf arrived to aid Hrothgar, Grendel had free reign over the land. All the people of the land were fearful of Grendel and had no way of protecting themselves except to hide and stay far away from the legendary mead hall. The narrator of the story states in verses 115-126, "Hrothgar the strong sank on his throne, helpless and hopeless beholding the carnage, the trail of the terror, a trouble too wrathful, a foe too