Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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Grendal vs. Beowulf Grendal, one of the main antagonists of Beowulf, lives under a curse and is denied God's company. Grendal causes grief and fear to the people of Herot throughout the story. The king of Herot, Hrothgar, sends for the Geat protagonist, Beowulf, to deal with Grendal, after so much pain and fear. Since Beowulf is the one that kills Grendal, the people of Herot honor him for doing so. The different characteristics between Grendal and Beowulf are what make the climax of the poem. Seeing as how Grendal and Beowulf have opposite roles, they let the reader know how distinct characters can build up the plot of the story.

Grendal, who is known as a monster and as the "guardian of sins", resembles a physical monster that is hostile to humanity. Grendal constantly visited Hrothgar's mead hall for his feasts on people, which made him feel that he had a sense of empowerment over Herot's citizens.

The heroic figure in the poem, Beowulf, is known as a courageous man to the people and performs great deeds of heroism. Beowulf's strength symbolizes a gift from God. As a righteous and kind man, Beowulf comes to Herot to save its people from God's enemy, Grendal. Both of these characters stand for different things in the poem. Beowulf depicts the heroic figure that saves everyone, while Grendal always remains evil with bad intentions.

One instance where the differences between the two characters are shown is before Beowulf initiates battle with Grendal. Beowulf shows an inference of fairness in not using a weapon against the monster. On the other hand, if Beowulf's attack had not been unexpected, Grendal definitely would have used a weapon in the battle. Although Beowulf and Grendal have many different characteristics, in a way, Beowulf stands for everything that Grendal yearns to be. Grendal dislikes living in the outer world, excluded from the company of people; because of that, he preys on people, jealous of the happiness that mankind possesses. In contrast to that, God honors Beowulf, he is a hero in strength as well as in spirit, and mankind accepts him.

The two main characters of this story, Beowulf and Grendal, are characters that make the story an epic one. Beowulf represents the common hero to a point that's almost mythological, because of his exceptional strength. Grendal is the common scoundrel, who kills for his own amusement. Both characters differ in nature, however they both have a tendency to strive for what they want. Beowulf strives to be known as the best warrior while Grendal strives to get revenge on mankind for what he goes through. Their comparison sets them apart both in character and in their means of thought.

Obviously, Beowulf is the better hero of the two, since he displays more characteristics of a hero than Grendal does. On the other hand, if Grendal would have been accepted my humanity; it might have been a different story. Grendal just needed a chance from the people of Herot to live a normal life, but they didn't give him that chance. If the chance were given to him, maybe Grendal would have been as good of a hero as Beowulf is.

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