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    Gardner’S Grendel Essay (553 words)

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    Authors often have to choose between concentrating on either plot or social commentary when writing their novels. In John Gardener’s Grendel, any notion of a plot is forgone in order for him to share his thoughts about late sixties-early seventies America and the world’s institutions as a whole. While Grendel’s exploits are nearly indecipherable and yawn-inducing, they do provide the reader with the strong opinions the author carries.

    This existentialistic novel can be seen clearly as a narrative supporting nihilism in its many forms. The reader will be able to see the religious subtext in the guise of corrupt priests and the foolish faithful. There is also negativity placed on the notion of the old being wise. Gardener deems hero idolization unacceptable as well. Knowledge that the Vietnam War was prevalent at the time gives additional insight into his complaints. Religion plays a large role in Grendel. Priests do not want to perform their services without proper payment, which causes the rich to become the most ‘religious.’

    The citizens of the village are confusingly poly- and monotheistic. When they pray to their king god and it does not decrease the frequency of Grendel’s visits, they beg any god they know for help. This reveals that their faith is not faith at all, but rather a faith that will remain as long as it can be proven. A proven religious faith is a contradictory term, as it can only be placed in a religion that cannot be proven, lest it is no longer true faith. Grendel’s interludes with the dragon portray the dragon, at their onsets, as a worldly and wise creature with much to share.

    The dragon informs Grendel about his vast store of knowledge and teases him with how much he knows. Grendel’s interests are piqued, and the dragon advises him to seek out gold and sit on it. Although the dragon serves as a vessel to point out the necessity of Grendel and makes some pointed observations about mankind, all his respectability is lost with those two short sentences. The author is making an observation about materialism and the falsehood of wisdom always accompanying age. After all his years of intense scrutiny, the dragon can only grasp from human- and animalkind alike that possessions are the key to life’s existence.

    Nature against society is also discussed in Grendel. The fact that citizens surrounded by religion and social status could be so easily overtaken by nature (Grendel) gives a sense of irony to the reader. Nature is the only virtuous and pure institution left available to the world and yet capable of such cold-blooded viciousness (again, Grendel). People can build up whatever walls they may to block the righteousness that is nature but will always be unsuccessful. Nature has no religion, no political power struggles, and no inherent corruption and will always be superior to man in all respects.

    The author is successful at dissembling the institutions that have been repeatedly dissembled for centuries: society and religion. The corrupt natures of religion and power have been the theses for countless books before and will remain for countless books after. While he doesn’t add much to the literary forum with these ideas, he expresses them in a creative way, through the eyes of one ‘innocent’ to human wiles. His thoughts are neither original nor innovative, but his success in including them all in a single story is a formidable achievement.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Gardner’S Grendel Essay (553 words). (2019, Jan 25). Retrieved from

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