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Grendel

John Gardner

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Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions & Essay Topics

full title  ·  Grendel

author  · John Gardner

type of work  · Novel

genre  · Postmodern novel; prose poem; bildungsroman (novel about the growth of the protagonist)

language  · English

time and place written  ·  1969–1970; San Francisco

date of first publication  ·  1971

publisher · Knopf

narrator  · Grendel

point of view  · Grendel narrates in the first person, conveying his inner thoughts and observations; occasionally he narrates from the point of view of another character

tone  · Grendel attempts to maintain a satirical, mocking distance throughout the novel, but often finds himself slipping into an impassioned earnestness

tense  · Present, but with substantial flashbacks in Chapters 1–8

setting (time)  · The fourth century a.d.

setting (place)  · Denmark

protagonist  · Grendel

major conflict  · Grendel struggles, within his own mind, to understand his place in a potentially meaningless world

rising action  · Grendel’s exposure to the opposing philosophies of the Shaper and the dragon provide him with two options of how to live in a world without inherent meaning or values: he can either try to create and assert his own meaning in the world or resign and accept the fact that such an endeavor is futile.

climax  · By engaging in a full-scale war with the humans, Grendel chooses to create a system of meaning for himself.

falling action  · Though warfare fulfills Grendel for a time, it soon becomes just as mechanical and empty as anything else. At this point, the only way out of Grendel’s trap is death.

themes  · Art as falsehood; the incompatibility of reason and emotion; the power of stories; the pain of isolation

motifs  · The seasons; the zodiac; machinery

symbols  · The bull; the corpse; Hart

foreshadowing  · The unresponsive ram foreshadows the unresponsive humans; the allusion to the curse of Cain foreshadows the charm of the dragon and the Christian imagery that surrounds Beowulf; the dark presence that Grendel feels in the woods and the snake he mistakes for a vine foreshadow his meeting with the dragon; the onset of winter foreshadows Grendel’s death.

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Grendel represents Agnar, son of Ingeld

by beowulfgeek, December 19, 2012

Spent a lot of years working on 'Beowulf' and I reckon that the monsters represent human characters. In my view: Grendel represents Agnar, son of Ingeld; Grendel's Mum represents the daughter of Earl Swerting of Sweden (and the first wife of Ingeld); and the Dragon represents Onela, king of the Swedes. I think that there has been a scribal error right at the beginning of the poem, which has made Scyld's 'bearn' (Modern English, 'bairn') into Beowulf the First. Thus the real parallels of the poem have been lost.

As far as the first tw

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The intricate art of glugging

by chinchilla99999, September 15, 2013

6 reasons you should consider being a cat
1.Free food
2.Free rent
3.Sleep as long as you want to
4.Look great with no effort
5.Grooming requires nothing but your tongue
6.License to kill(mickey mouse)

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7 out of 11 people found this helpful

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