Literature / Grendel
is a novel by John Gardner, retelling the epic of Beowulf
from the point of view of the monster Grendel.
It was animated in Australia, under the title Grendel Grendel Grendel
This novel provides examples of:
- Adaptational Villainy: Beowulf in the animated movie is even more malicious and creepy than in the book.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: Grendel is a poor lonely misunderstood guy who can't communicate with humans despite not meaning them any harm. At first. Beowulf, on the other hand, is a cold-blooded killer.
- Ambiguous Situation: Is the dragon real, or is it just a figment of Grendel's imagination? Convincing arguments could be made for both.
- Angst: Lots of it - mainly of the "What's the purpose of it all?" vein. Leads to Wangst.
- Anti-Nihilist: While he's ruining Grendel's various body parts, Beowulf, according to Grendel's increasingly all-too-literally addled mind, begins chanting to him that, no matter how cruel and meaningless the suffering of the world may be, no matter what damage is inflicted, the world will always recover and regenerate in the end.
- Ax-Crazy: Grendel thinks that Beowulf is this, and it's kind of hard to argue with him.
- Black Comedy
- Butt-Monkey: Unferth.
- Byronic Hero: Grendel.
- Deadpan Snarker: Grendel himself has at least two such moments while Beowulf is smacking his head against a wall.
"I sing for the hardness of walls. Hooray for the hardness of walls."
- Death by Adaptation: Poor Unferth gets stabbed in the back by Beowulf in the animated movie.
- Dirty Old Man: This version gives us the dragon that Beowulf fights at the end of the poem as one.
"Boobies, hemorrhoids boils, slaver (nyeh heh heh)..."
- Downer Ending: Grendel dies from his wounds after his fight with Beowulf. His final thoughts are about how, unlike the Shaper, his "funeral" will be attended by only the animals that he's grown to hate and shows that he seems to have completely accepted the dragon's hideous worldview.
- Doomed by Canon: Guess who.
- Dragon Hoard: The dragon not only hoards gold, he also advises Grendel that the only point of life is to "find a pile of gold and sit on it."
- Dysfunction Junction
- Epigraph: Opens with a quotation from "The Mental Traveller" by William Blake.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: In-Universe, the dragon's "lesson" for Grendel basically amounts to "everything in life sucks and you should be a bastard to everyone".
- Foreshadowing In the animated movie, the shaper sings an ironically happy song about Grendel and mentions that 'Removal of an arm or two would benefit us all'. This alludes to the method Beowulf uses to kill Grendel near the end of the film.
- The Four Loves: Grendel seeks Storge and Phileo but can't find it because he can't communicate with the humans well.
- He-Man Woman Hater: Apparently being raised by a barely-sentient monster doesn't help one's view of women. Grendel might be applying little bit of Ho Yay jealousy to the king's wife as well.
- Humanoid Abomination: What Grendel perceives Beowulf as. Aside from his strength, Grendel can't help but notice something wrong about his face and shoulders, which isn't helped by Grendel's pain-induced hallucinations featuring Beowulf sprouting flaming wings.
- Monster Sob Story
- Perspective Flip
- Precision F-Strike: "you're crazy," I say. "If you think I created that wall that cracked my head, you're a fucking lunatic."
- Start of Darkness: Grendel starts out simply being misunderstood. However as he endures more and after his talks with the Dragon (who is not a good role model to say the least), he starts becoming more violent, aggressive, and starts deliberately killing people instead of trying to make friends with them.
- Straw Character: A variety of viewpoints are mocked without a satisfactory rebuttal.
- Straw Nihilist: The dragon, who also manages to convince Grendel to stop trying to make up with the Danes and just kill them instead.
- Sympathetic P.O.V.
- Twice-Told Tale
- Villain Protagonist