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Beowulf as context for Gardner's Grendel

Beowulf as context for Gardner's Grendel

Author: Dean Hill

Gain an understanding of framing narrative for Gardner's "Grendel"

Web search crafted for students to gain a detailed understanding of the epic poem "Beowulf" without actually reading the poem.

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Some canon fodder

Knowing the Frame narrative helps understand "Grendel"

This is a brief review of "Beowulf", the epic poem that sets the stage for Gardner's existential philosophical exploration of the world with his 'opposing' character, Grendel.

That may be a good lens to sustain as you review the details presented here about Beowulf; Grendel is the yang to Beowulf's yin. As the poem "Beowulf" presents good, moral, religious and heroic virtues Gardner's text will question, challenge and explore counterparts to each value/ aesthetic.


Here are some summaries of the poem

At least read this summary:

Again, at least skim through this summary:

As you read, for those of you who can recall the hero's journey or Campbell's monomyth features (wiki review), create a brief outline of the quest with the following features:

the call, the threshold, the tool, the initiation, the challenges, the fall, death/ rebirth, the return and reintegration with society

Some of these will make immediate sense and others probably not, but you are trying to get the basics; remember Beowulf is the Über hero.

Source: Both URLs retrieved October 8, 2012

Julian Glover's version of Beowulf

Take notes one:

As the video plays note the differences and similarities to Gardner's version. Notice how Grendel is characterized versus Beowulf. Also note any concepts that may oppose an existentialistic or nihilistic viewpoint

Contextual information

Now that you have the narrative of "Beowulf" craft a bulleted outline of the following notes.


Source: Retrieved Sept, 2006 from a Google search- Sorry, Mr. Roberts I cannot backtrack my search.

Brief articles on the resolution between Christianity and Paganism

The Anglo- Saxons described in the poem were not necessarily Christians, yet, but the creator of the poem most definitely was; therefore, there is a constant narrator's voice that re-casts many of the pagan values as monotheistic.

These brief essays shed some light on the topic.  Skim these essays and, for your notes, make a t-chart of the pagan values mentioned and the Christian virtues as they correlate to one another.

Source: Both URLs retrieved October 8, 2012

Lastly reflect

Remember, I said that "Grendel" fills the negative space that is left in the epic poem "Beowulf".

Think about what you have read so far in Gardner's "Grendel". How has he challenged some of the values presented by the heroic code, the Christian code or the Pagan code?

How might Grendel be anti-hero or unheroic?

What questions do you still need answered or arouse from this material?

There will be a discussion on this when I return to class.

If this wasn't enough go to for a great if extensive summary of "Beowulf". The theme reference may be particularly helpful.

Also,, is even longer and better if you cannot get enough.


Source: All Urls referenced retrieved oct 8, 2012.