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Af monstre og mænd: Hvad kaldes den grumme som Grendel fra den episke Beowulf?

Af monstre og mænd: Hvad kaldes den grumme som Grendel fra den episke Beowulf?


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I dag gemmer monstre sig under din seng. De kommer ud af skabet eller dingler fra dit loft. Børn forestiller sig normalt sådanne monstre med hugtænder eller skalaer, glødende øjne og kløer. Med den rette direktør, Monsters Inc. kunne blive til en gyserfilm med kun mindre ændringer i historien.

I middelalderens England var monstre meget forskellige og nogle gange ret tvetydige. Sådan er tilfældet med Grendel i Beowulf. Omdømt som et primært eksempel på angelsaksisk litteratur og vestlig episk poesi, var teksten oprindeligt skrevet på gammelengelsk og dikterer historien om den skandinaviske helt Beowulf og hans forsøg på at hjælpe den danske konge Hrothgar. En af de tre grunde til, at Beowulf er nødvendig, er at dræbe et stærkt monster, der konsekvent har plaget Hrothgars mjødhal. Dette monster er ingen ringere end Grendel - der uden tvivl er lige så berømt som - om ikke mere end - Beowulf selv.

En skildring af, hvordan Grendel kan have set ud.

Var Grendel en kæmpe eller en drage?

Den præcise karakter af Grendels væsen bliver aldrig helt klarlagt. Fortolkninger af hans karakter har varieret fra kæmpe til drage til en skandinavisk berserker. Han er blevet beskrevet som en tobenet brute med uigennemtrængelige skalaer og pigge i stedet for hud og kaldes en skygge rollator i teksten. Monikeren kan være et tegn på Grendels præference for mørke og skygger, eller det kan have en symbolsk betydning, der forklarer det væsen, Grendel oprindeligt var beregnet til at blive fortolket som. Uanset hvad, har den førnævnte beskrivelse af monsteret længe været et debatemne blandt forskere.

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"I am the giant Skrymir" af Elmer Boyd Smith. "I dragens form ser Fafner nu hamsteren." Billede, der viser en våbendanser efterfulgt af en berserker. (Public Domain) Var Grendel en kæmpe, en drage eller en beserker?

På grund af tekstens skandinaviske karakter er argumenterne for Grendel som kæmpe eller drage interessante. Grendel som en kæmpe er en fornuftig antagelse: giganter (nordisk: jötnar) beskrives i de nordiske sagaer og mytologiske historier som unormalt store tobenede, der lever i ildområdet kaldet Jötunheimr (selvom brandgiganterne bor i Muspelheim). Kæmpen Ymir er endda krediteret for at have skabt den første version af verden fra sine egne lemmer. De fysiske detaljer om Grendels person overholder bedst antagelsen om, at han er en kæmpe, som nordmanden hævdede jötnar havde adskillige grusomme træk som kløer og hugtænder, og nogle havde endda mere end et hoved.

'Giant Suttung og dværgene'.

Argumentet om, at Grendel er en drage, stemmer derimod ikke overens med skandinaviske syn på drager. Det primære "bevis" for, at Grendel kan falde ind i denne kategori, er baseret på den europæiske fortolkning af disse skabninger som store væsener dækket af uigennemtrængelige skalaer, og foretrækker, at huler skjuler deres gyldne skatte for grådige mænd - det er blevet hævdet, at Grendel kan være en tidligere version af sådan et væsen. Selvom han betragtes som noget humanoid i den originale tekst, er Grendels fysiske beskrivelse i overensstemmelse med beskrivelsen af ​​en tidlig europæisk drage. Begrebet flyvende drager kommer fra Asien.

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Friedrich Johann Justin Bertuch, den mytiske væsen drage, 1806.

Grendels tvetydighed

Men i nordboernes litteratur ligner drager mere slanger end den moderne vision, der ses i film. Middelalderens skandinaviske "drager" havde serpentinske kroppe med ben, der var små - sammenlignelige i forhold til en gravhund - og de vekslede mellem at have vinger og ikke. Fafnir, søn af en dværg, der dræbte for Andvaris gyldne ring, blev forvandlet til en drage, der var i stand til at trække vejret, men ikke flyve.

I mellemtiden er Nidhoggr, dragen, der gnavede i rødderne af livets træ, Yggdrasil, blevet beskrevet som i stand til at flyve. Mens disse beskrivelser af nordiske drager ikke nødvendigvis angiver, at Grendel er ikke en version af en skandinavisk drage, vægten på hans humanoide form, i forbindelse med inkluderingen af ​​en egentlig drage inden for Beowulf, får det til at virke langt mindre sandsynligt, at Grendel er en anden drage for Beowulf at kæmpe med.

Beowulf mod dragen. (Andimayer/ Afvigende kunst )

Vejer beviserne

På grund af de førnævnte beviser er det denne forfatteres overbevisning, at Grendel sandsynligvis er en version af en skandinavisk kæmpe. Mens den angelsaksiske forfatter-hvem han end var-måske havde skabt sin egen version af et "monster", mens han lagde fortællingen om Beowulf i Skandinavien gør de mange interaktioner med vikingestyrker i nutidens England, Irland og Danmark det muligt, at forfatteren også forsøgte at indarbejde skandinavisk mytologi i teksten. Ydermere er der en hel del overlap mellem førkristne angelsaksiske guder og nordiske guder.

En faktor at tage højde for i fremtidig forskning kan være at afgøre, om Beowulf var beregnet til nordlige øjne eller angelsaksiske, da sådan en undersøgelse kan hjælpe med at bestemme synspunkterne for det tiltænkte publikum. Det er også lige så sandsynligt, at Grendel med vilje holdes tvetydig; forfatteren kunne simpelthen have ønsket læsere af hans episke digt at bruge deres fantasi og skabe en Grendel fra monstrene i deres eget sind.

Vikinger, der bar hovedet på Grendel, dyret, der angreb festsalen i 'Beowulf'


Grendel den dystre dæmon

Intet gør en god helt som et godt monster, der forsøger at rive helt af hovedet. Grendel og hans mor er ærligt talt de karakterer, som jeg synes er mest interessante i dette epos. Denne passage introducerer Grendel og fortæller, ligesom resten af ​​de vigtige karakterer, publikum om hans aner og oprindelse.

Kain, der ifølge bibelsk tradition var den første morder, er navngivet som stamfar til Grendels klan. Dette brogede parti indeholder "forvistede monstre" (105) som "ogres og nisser og onde fantomer" (112). Det originale gamle engelsk omtaler dem som "eotenas ” (112), “ylfe ” (112) og "orkneer” (112). “Eotenas” sandsynligvis referere til det, der nu er kendt som Jotuns, de giganter, der ofte førte krig med guderne fra Aesgård i nordisk mytologi. “Ylfe ” er naturligvis nisser. “Orcneas, ” som blev oversat til Norton Anthology of English Literature version af Beowulf som "onde fantomer" synes at være spøgelser eller havmonstre. Et kristent verdensbillede, der overlapper den ældre, hedenske, giver disse monstre en overraskende menneskelig oprindelse, for deres forfader var Kain, der trods en morder var lige så menneskelig som Abel var.

Disse baggrundsoplysninger om Grendel er vigtige, fordi ligesom Hrothgar og Beowulf får deres forfædre reciteret, så tales der også om Grendels oprindelse. Hans stamtavle er ikke i nærheden af ​​så ædel eller udførlig som deres, men alligevel præsenteres den. Han er, som teksten allitererer, “Caines cynne ” (107), Kains slægtninge og efterfølgeren til den første morder med en masse elendig skullduggery at leve op til. Dette viser også, at Grendel ikke er den eneste af sin slags, en afvigende freak i en ellers normal verden. Han er ikke alene, han har slægtninge, og når han er væk, vil det ikke være det sidste, mennesker hører om denne skadelige familie.

Kendskaberne i dette afsnit inkluderer "Ring-danskerne" (116), der henviser til Hrothgars mænd, og for Grendel, "Gud-forbandet brute" (121). Grendel tales om i det originale oldengelske som "grimma gaest Grendel,”(102) en dejlig alliteration. “Grimma ” betyder at rase, brøle, skynde sig og generelt være vred. Som verb betyder det at blive vred og antyde, at Grendel ikke blot havde en elendig dag i sumpen - Hrothgar gjorde muligvis noget for at vække hans vrede. Grendels raseri fremgår af hans hyppige angreb på Hrothgars hal og krævede "tredive mænd" (122) liv på én gang. “Gaest ” er et ord, der betyder begge dele gæst og ånd, hvoraf Grendel teknisk set er begge dele. Dette kan oversættes til den rasende ånd, Grendel eller den rasende gæst, Grendel. Dette giver lidt af en gåde om, hvor uhyrlig Grendel var, uanset om han var en egentlig ånd eller simpelthen et usædvanligt stærkt menneske. Kun hans slægtskab til Kain - og nisserne og spøgelserne og fantomerne - cementerer ham som en anden verden.

Grendel angriber om natten, når “ring-danskerne” (116) er fulde. Han er natlig og taktisk - eller fej, afhængig af ens synspunkt og meget, meget stor. Han snuppede "tredive mænd" (122) og bar dem tilbage til sin hule. For at gentage, hentede Grendel tredive voksne, sandsynligvis store mænd. Dette er enten et eksempel på hyperbole, poetisk licens, eller Grendel var på størrelse med Godzilla.

Den måde, hvorpå Grendel "blunderer" (125) tilbage med sit drab, formidler flere ting. Først og fremmest giver det indtryk af et stort, klodset monster. Det var også midt om natten, så ganske muligt, at Grendel ville snuble og blundere rundt i sin hast.

Sammenfattende præsenteres Grendels skumle herkomst i overensstemmelse med betydningen af ​​slægtskab og de efterfølgende generationer. Han præsenteres som en vred, rasende ånd, der slagter mange af Hrothgars mænd, bare den slags fjende for Beowulf at kæmpe og bevise sig selv imod.


Spørgsmålet om løb i Beowulf

J.R.R. Tolkiens sædvanlige legat på Beowulf centrerer et hvidt mandligt blik. Toni Morrison fokuserede på Grendel og hans mor som racede og marginale figurer.

De fleste læsere af Beowulf forstå det som en hvid, mandlig helthistorie - sigende er den opkaldt efter helten, ikke monsteret - der slår et monster og monsterets mor ihjel. Grendel, den uhyggeligt ubudne gæst, dræber kong Hrothgars mænd på en fest i Heorot. Beowulf, en kriger, lander i Hrothgars rige og dræber Grendel, men må derefter kæmpe med Grendels mor, der kommer for at vedtage hævn for sin søns mord. År senere behandler Beowulf en drage, der ødelægger sit rige og dør, mens han og hans dane, Wiglaf, dræber dragen. Det afgørende er, at Grendel aldrig er klart beskrevet, men kaldes en "dyster dæmon", "gud forbandet brute", en "svævende gennem mørket", en del af "Kains klan."

Ja, Beowulf er en historie om monstre, race og politisk vold. Alligevel har kritikere altid læst det gennem det hvide blik og en bevarelse af hvid engelsk arv. Grundlæggende artikel om Beowulf og monstre er J.R.R. Tolkiens "Beowulf: Monstrene og kritikerne. ” Ja, før og mens du skriver Ringenes Herre, Tolkien var en middelalderlig professor i Oxford, der fortolkede Beowulf for et hvidt engelsk publikum. Han bruger Grendel og dragen til at diskutere en æstetisk, ikke-politiseret, tæt læsning af monstre og beder kritikere om at læse det som et digt, et sprogkunstværk:

Alligevel er det faktisk skrevet på et sprog, der efter mange århundreder stadig har et væsentligt slægtskab med vores eget, det blev skabt i dette land og bevæger sig i vores nordlige verden under vores nordlige himmel og for dem, der er hjemmehørende i den tunge og dette land , må den nogensinde kalde med en dyb appel - indtil dragen kommer.

Beowulf- som er skrevet på gammelengelsk - blev produceret for over et årtusinde siden og foregår i Danmark. At lære gammelt engelsk er på niveau med at lære et fremmedsprog. Således Tolkiens opfattelse af hvilke organer, der er flydende i dette "indfødte" engelske sprog, kan læse Beowulf, giver også et vindue ind i politikken om, hvem der kommer til, og hvordan man læser og skriver om middelalderens fortid.

Ugentligt nyhedsbrev

Tolkiens investering i hvidhed gælder ikke kun for hans ideelle læsere af middelalderlig litteratur. Det strækker sig også til den ideelle middelalderlitteratur lærde. På Belle da Costa Greene-konferencen 2018 fremhævede Kathy Lavezzo Tolkiens rolle i at lukke den jamaicanskfødte, sorte britiske akademiker Stuart Hall ude af middelalderstudier. Halls selvbiografi, Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands, beskriver en hvid sydafrikansk portvagt. Tolkien var University of Oxford Merton professor i engelsk sprog og litteratur, da Hall var en Rhodos -lærd i 1950'erne. Hall forklarer, hvordan han næsten blev litteraturlærer fra middelalderen: “Jeg elskede noget af poesien -Beowulf, Sir Gawain og den grønne ridder, Vandreren, Søfareren- og på et tidspunkt planlagde jeg at lave kandidatarbejde på Langlands Piers Ploughman. ” Men ifølge Lavezzo var det Tolkien, der greb ind i disse planer: “Men da jeg forsøgte at anvende nutidig litteraturkritik på disse tekster, fortalte min asketiske sydafrikanske sprogprofessor mig i en smertefuld tone, at dette ikke var øvelseens punkt. ”

Dette kolliderer med Tolkiens venligere image, der har gennemsyret populærkulturen, takket være Ringenes Herre. Gennem Tolkiens hvide kritiske blik, Beowulf som et epos for hvide engelske mennesker har dannet rygraden i digtets stipendium. Den dag i dag har der kun været et par sorte forskere i angelsaksiske studier at publicere på Beowulf. Mary Rambaran-Olm har rapporteret om de mange tilfælde, hvor sorte og ikke-hvide forskere blev lukket ude af middelalderstudier. Hun forklarede for nylig på Race Before Race: Race and Periodization symposium, hvad Tolkien gjorde mod Hall i lyset af sin egen beslutning om at træde tilbage som anden vicepræsident for feltets vigtigste akademiske samfund, med henvisning til hændelser af hvid overherredømme og gatekeeping. Som et resultat af disse hændelser, studere Beowulf har længe været et privilegium forbeholdt hvide lærde.

Ironisk nok står Tolkiens fortalervirksomhed for en nordlig, "indfødt" og hvid ideel læserskare i kontrast til hans egen personlige og familiære historie. Han tilbragte sine første år i Sydafrika. Selvom Tolkiens biografer har hævdet, at hans fødsel i Afrika næppe påvirkede ham, har videnskabelige kritikere påpeget den strukturelle racisme i hans kreative arbejde, især i Ringenes Herre. Derudover skrev han en hel filologisk serie, "Sigelwara Land" og "Sigelwara Land (fortsat)" om det gamle engelske ord for "Etiopien." I denne serie forklarer han forbindelserne mellem Sigelwara Land og monstre ved at flade kategorierne af sorte etiopiere, djævle og drager ud. Han skriver:

De lærde placerede drager og vidunderlige perler i Etiopien og krediterede folket med mærkelige vaner og mærkelige fødevarer, for ikke at nævne sammenhæng med Anthropophagi. Efterhånden som det er kommet til os, bruges ordet i oversættelse (hvis nøjagtighed ikke kan fastslås) af Etiopien, som et vagt opfattet geografisk udtryk eller i passager, der beskriver djævle, hvis detaljer kan skyldes noget vulgær tradition , men er ikke nødvendigvis gamle. De er af middelalderlig art og sideløbende andre steder. Etiopien var varmt og dets folk sorte. At Helvede var ens i begge henseender ville forekomme mange.

Tolkiens arbejde med empirisk filologi er en form for racialiseret konfirmationsbias, der fratager Etiopien enhver form for forbindelse til østens vidundere, ædelstene eller endda sin egen fiksering af drager. Han fremhæver Sigelwara som et udtryk relateret til sort hud og dets forbindelser til djævle og helvede, der indrammer etiopier inden for samme kategori som "monstre". Han har ingen betænkeligheder ved konsekvent at forbinde etiopierne til "Hams sønner" og dermed de bibelske efterkommere af Kain, der forbinder middelalderens Etiopien med begrundelsen for løsøre i slaveri. Faktisk diskuterer ingen del af etymologien (eller nogen del af middelalderlige diskussioner om Etiopien) slaveri. Tolkien ville have læst Beowulf Grendel, der er knyttet til Kain, som en sort mand:

Grendel var den dystre skabning, der blev kaldt, den dårligt berømte hjemsøger af landets marcher, der holdt hederne, flådenes fasthed og den ulykkelige beboede længe, ​​mens troldens slags hjem for skaberen havde forbudt ham med Kains løb.

Tolkiens artikler om Etiopien og videre Beowulf, der alle blev offentliggjort i 1930'erne, afslører, at Tolkien sandsynligvis fortolkede Grendel som en sort mand, der var forbundet med en bibelsk begrundelse for transatlantisk løsøre. Således blev Grendel kørt inden for logikerne i Tolkiens hvide racistiske gazer. Hans filologiske metode ses dog stadig som en ikke-politiseret og ikke-personlig form for "empirisk" stipendium. Hans interesse for at befæste hvid engelskhed og engelsk identitet - som en kæde af forbindelser fra den førmoderne middelalderlige fortid til nutidige raceidentiteter - er et projekt, der strækker sig til flere videnskabelige områder.

I løbet af de sidste mange år har Tolkiens mest cirkulerede politiske holdning været hans modstand mod fascisme som vist i breve, han skrev til et tysk forlag. Han har måske afskåret fascisme og antisemitisme, men han fastholdt det engelske imperiums hvide overherredømme. Han havde racialiseret overbevisning mod afrikanere og andre medlemmer af den engelske sorte diaspora.

Sorte lærde er systematisk blevet lukket ude af gammelengelsk litteratur. Hvis der ikke er en kritisk masse af sorte intellektuelle, forfattere og digtere, der kan tale tilbage til det tidlige engelske litterære korpus og de store truende hvide supremacistiske portvagter, så Toni Morrisons Beowulf essay kan godt være det første stykke til at gøre det. Fordi hun skriver om Beowulf, race og hvordan man læser ud over det hvide blik, taler hendes essay ikke kun tilbage til Beowulf men til det engelske litteraturstipendium, der har efterladt angelsaksiske studier et rum med fortsat hvidt supremacistisk stipendium.

I Toni Morrisons 2019 -kollektion, Kilden til selvrespekt: ​​Udvalgte essays, taler og meditationer, får vi den første revision af, hvem der skal læse Beowulf og hvordan race betyder noget. I sit essay "Grendel og hans mor" forklarer hun:

At dykke ned i litteratur er hverken flugt eller sikker vej til trøst. Det har været et konstant, til tider voldeligt, altid provokerende engagement i den samtidige verden, spørgsmålene i det samfund, vi lever i … Som jeg fortæller det, kan du blive mindet om begivenhederne og retorikken og handlingerne i mange nuværende militariserede kampe og voldelige omvæltninger .

Som en sort feministisk læser undersøger Morrison Beowulf som politisk, aktuel, for nogen læser. Faktisk åbner hun med at forklare, at litteraturkritik altid udføres gennem dets øjebliks linse, og opfordrer sine læsere til at opdage i de forbindelseslinjer, jeg gør med en middelalderlig følsomhed og en moderne til en grobund, hvor vi kan vurdere vores nutidige verden. ” Morrison's Beowulf fortolkning fremhæver, hvad andre kritikere efter Tolkiens ledelse har anset for at være marginale. Hun decentrerer den hvide mandlige helt og fokuserer i stedet på de racialiserede, politiserede og kønnede figurer af Grendel og hans mor, der i Tolkiens læsning ville have været sorte. I sin artikel "Beowulf: Monstrene og kritikerne, "koncentrerer hans hvide mandlige blik sig om, hvad disse to" monstre "kan gøre for Beowulfs udvikling som den hvide mandlige helt i germansk epos. Morrison er derimod interesseret i Grendel og hans mor som racede og marginale figurer med indre, psyke, kontekst og følelser.

I Morrisons interviews med Bill Moyers, Charlie Rose og Paris -anmeldelsen, forklarer hun sin litterære metode, da hun pakker amerikansk litteratur fra det nittende og tyvende århundrede ud- især Faulkner, Twain, Hemingway og Poe- og hvordan hvide forfattere og kritikere skjuler sort og race. Tilsvarende i Morrisons diskussion om Willa Cather's Sapphira og slavepigen, afslører hun hvidhedens magtdynamik i Cathers roman. Romanen beskriver det komplicerede forhold mellem en hvid og en sort kvinde, hvor Cathers hvide blik tvinger ikke bare usigelig vold til den sorte kvinde, men også sletter hendes navn, kontekst og synspunkt. På samme måde er Tolkien ikke interesseret i Grendel eller hans mors racialiserede sammenhænge, ​​følelser og årsager. Han skriver med det hvide blik - Grendel og hans mor er racistiske rekvisitter, der hjælper med at forklare Beowulfs konflikter, sammenhænge, ​​følelser og årsager. Morrisons følelser om amerikansk litteratur fra 1800-tallet gælder for hvide supremacistiske angelsaksiske studier: "Racismens sindssyge ... du er på jagt efter denne [race] ting, der ingen steder er at finde, og som alligevel gør hele forskellen."

Morrison analyserer Beowulf gennem Grendels racialiserede blik. Hun påpeger Grendels manglende baghistorie:

Men hvad der tilsyneladende aldrig generede eller bekymrede dem, var hvem der var Grendel, og hvorfor havde han placeret dem på sin menu? Spørgsmålet dukker ikke op af en enkel grund: ondskab har ingen far. Det er preternatural og eksisterer uden forklaring. Grendels handlinger dikteres af hans natur karakteren af ​​et fremmed sind - en umenneskelig drift … Men Grendel undslipper disse årsager: ingen havde angrebet eller krænket ham, ingen havde forsøgt at invadere hans hjem eller fortrænge ham fra hans område, ingen havde stjålet fra ham eller besøgte nogen vrede over ham. Det var klart, at han hverken forsvarede sig selv eller søgte hævn. Faktisk vidste ingen, hvem han var.

Morrison beder læserne om at dvæle ved Grendel ud over gode mod onde binære filer. Hun centrerer de marginale karakterer i Beowulf, der ikke har fået plads og liv i selve digtet. Hun tvinger os til at gentænke Grendels mor og Beowulfs hævn og skriver:

Beowulf svømmer gennem dæmonfyldte farvande, bliver taget til fange, og når han kommer ind i moderens hule, våbenløs, tvinges han til at bruge hans bare hænder … Med sit eget våben skærer han hendes hoved af og derefter hovedet på Grendels lig. En mærkelig ting sker så: Offerens blod smelter sværdet … Den konventionelle læsning er, at djævlenes blod er så grimt, at det smelter stål, men billedet af Beowulf, der står der med en mors hoved i den ene hånd og et ubrugeligt hæfte i andre tilskynder til flere lagfortolkninger. Den ene er, at måske vold mod vold - uanset godt og ondt, rigtigt og forkert - i sig selv er så fælt, hævnens sværd falder sammen i udmattelse eller skam.

Morrisons diskussion af Grendel, Grendels mor og Beowulf handler om vold, og hvordan den ophæver alle potentielle motiver, herunder hævn. Finalen tableau af Beowulf, der holder både hævnens bloddækkede sværd og Grendels mors hoved, handler om korrosivitet af vold. Til Morrison, den ætsende vold, der spiser gennem hævnens sværd, er hvidtens.

Morrison går videre for at pakke ud Beowulf gennem samtidige forfatteres arbejde. Hun forklarer:

En udfordring til de nødvendige, men snævre forventninger til denne heroiske fortælling kommer fra en nutidig forfatter, afdøde John Gardner, i sin roman med titlen Grendel … Romanen stiller det spørgsmål, som eposet ikke gør: Hvem er Grendel? Forfatteren beder os om at komme ind i hans sind og afprøve antagelsen om, at ondskab er åbenlyst uforståeligt, modigt og uafkodeligt.

Helt konkret diskuterer hun Gardners gentænkning af Grendels interiør. Hun skriver, at Gardner forsøger at “ trænge ind i det indre liv - følelsesmæssigt, erkendende - af inkarneret ondskab. ” For Morrison kommer digtets mest markante fortolkning ved at læse det politisk, kogent og stringent. Hun skriver:

I dette land bliver vi bedt om både at komme tilbage fra vold og at omfavne den til at vakle mellem at vinde for enhver pris og pleje vores nabo mellem frygten for det mærkelige og trøst i det velkendte mellem skandinavernes blodfejde og monsterets længsel efter pleje og fællesskab.

I Morrisons analyse har Grendel udviklet sig fra at være en morderisk gæst til Hrothgar's Hall, der dræber uden grund, til at blive det centrale fokus. Denne passage beder os om at tænke over, hvorfor Grendel ville gøre, hvad han gjorde. Morrison forstår ham som besat, og hans dilemma er også vores. ” Hun placerer Grendel som slægtning og slægtning til sit forestillede kritiske læsepublikum - sorte kvinder.

Morrison slutter med en meditation om medvirken, passivitet og den moderne senfascismes og demokratiets politik:

… -sprog - informeret, formet, begrundet - vil blive den hånd, der forbliver krise og giver kreativ, konstruktiv konfliktluft til at trække vejret, skræmme vores liv og riste vores intellekt. Jeg ved, at demokrati er værd at kæmpe for. Jeg ved, at fascisme ikke er det. For at vinde er den tidligere intelligente kamp nødvendig. For at vinde sidstnævnte kræves intet. Du behøver kun at samarbejde, være tavs, acceptere og adlyde, indtil Grendels mors blod tilintetgør hendes eget våben og sejrherrens også.

Med andre ord kan vi genlæse den scene som en erklæring om fascistisk vold og dens selvdestruerende og kønsbestemte toksicitet. Morrison har læst Beowulf løb, kønnet, politisk har hun forestillet sig dens fortolkning gennem centraliteten i et sort feministisk læsepublikum, hvor politik betyder noget, og "demokrati er værd at kæmpe for."

Som Tolkiens intellektuelle barnebarn (min rådgiver var hans elev), tror jeg ikke, at det er tilfældigt, at Morrisons kritiske stemme omformulerer Beowulf for de racialiserede, politiske nu. Tolkiens bevidste lukning af Stuart Hall betyder, at vi kun kan spekulere om Hall som kritiker af Beowulf, og vi ved, at angelsaksisk stipendium fortsat lukker sorte og minoritetsforskere ud. Med Morrison tror jeg endelig, at vi kan lægge Tolkiens "Monsters and Critics" i seng og læse Beowulf på ny.

Redaktørens bemærkning: Dette essay er blevet opdateret for at afspejle det faktum, at selvom Tolkien kan betragtes som sydafrikansk efter hans fødested, flyttede han til England som lille.


Angelsaksere

Det er ingen overdrivelse at sige det Beowulf er & ndash i dag & ndash et af de vigtigste overlevende værker i middelalderens litteratur. Det er langt det længste gamle engelske digt og & ndash på godt 3.000 linjer & ndash bevarer omkring en tiendedel af det overlevende engelske vers fra før den normanniske erobring. Men det er også et mysterium. Der er ikke meget, vi ved om, hvem der har komponeret det, eller hvorfor, eller endda hvornår. Der er kun en overlevende kopi fra hele middelalderen og manuskriptet er nu kendt som British Library Cotton MS Vitellius A XV.

Beowulf

Beowulf er et gammelt engelsk episk digt, der overlever i et enkelt dyrebart manuskript.

I lang tid vidste akademikere ikke rigtigt, hvad de skulle gøre af Beowulf. En tidlig kritik var, at det & lsquoputs irrelevancerne i midten og de alvorlige ting på yderkanterne & rsquo. [1] Ved & lsquoirrelevancies & rsquo betyder Ker de tre monster kampe, der udgør det meste af handlingen. De fleste kritikere i dag ville være uenige: monstrene har nu en & lsquocentral betydning & hellip afgørende for selve opbygningen af ​​digtet & rsquo. [2] Efter alt, Beowulf er & ndash i sit hjerte & ndash historien om en heroisk mand, der dræber tre monstre og derefter dør. Så for at forstå dette gamle digt skal vi først forstå dets monstre.

At sætte sig ind i Grendel

Først og fremmest er Grendel: på mange måder en ukendt mængde. Han & rsquos en skyggefuld figur (bogstaveligt talt, en & lsquomearcstapa& rsquo, [& lsquoborder-stepper & rsquo], (l. 103)), hvis øjne lyser med en & lsquoleoht unf & aeligger& rsquo [& lsquogrim light & rsquo], (l. 727). Han og rsquos stammer fra Kain, Adam og Evas fratricidale søn, hvis mord på sin egen bror ser ham udstødt af Gud og skæbnen til at vandre i eksil (Genesis 4. 1 & ndash16). Dette giver indtryk af, at Grendel er menneskelig, eller i det mindste humanoid, og vi fortalte, at han fortsætter & lsquoweres w & aeligstmum& rsquo [& lsquoin formen på en mand & rsquo], (l. 1352). Men han & rsquos meget større end det: det tager fire krigere simpelthen at løfte hovedet (l. 1637). Han bor i et dystert undervandsrum et sted ud over & lsquomyrcan mor& rsquo [& lsquodark moor & rsquo], (ll. 1402 & ndash41). Han spiser sine ofre & ndash -knogler og alt & ndash og kæmper uden våben eller rustning i vanvittige angreb, der efterlader snesevis af døde i hans kølvandet (ll. 120 & ndash25, 730 & ndash44). Disse detaljer kommer frem i pasform og starter i løbet af digtet: altid suggestive, aldrig specifikke. I de bedste traditioner for gyserfortællinger, jo mere det overlod til fantasien, desto bedre.

Østens vidundere

En parallel til Grendels: illustration af en humanoid kannibal fra Østens vidundere i Nowell Codex, som også indeholder Beowulf manuskript.

Public Domain i de fleste andre lande end Storbritannien.

Grendel angriber danskerne nat efter nat i årevis, indtil Beowulf kommer dem til hjælp i et episk møde, der bogstaveligt talt ryster den danske hal til dens grundvold (ll. 744 & ndash835). Grendel & rsquos sidste indtrængen i Heorot begynder med et blodig angreb på en af ​​Beowulf & rsquos sovende krigere:

[Grendel] slat unwearnum,
flagermus banlocan, blod edrum dranc,
synsn & aeligdum swealh sona h & aeligfde
unlyfigendes eal gefeormod,
fet ond folma (ll. 741 & ndash45)

Grendel rev uden tøven,
bed i knoglelåsene, drak blodet i venerne,
slugte snart syndige bid
fuldstændig forbrugt den livløse,
ned til hans fødder og hænder.

Opmuntret når Grendel efter sit næste offer og finder sig selv i at kæmpe med Beowulf selv. Monsteret indser snart, at han & rsquos har bidt mere af, end han kan tygge: & lsquohe ne mette middangeardes, / eor & thornan sceata på elran mænd / mundgripe maran& rsquo [& lsquohe havde ikke mødt i verden, i ethvert hjørne af jorden, et større håndgreb i en anden mand & rsquo], (ll. 751 & ndash53). I en stærk vending finder monsteret, der begyndte aftenen fest på menneskekød, nu at hans eget & lsquoseonowe onsprungon, / burston banlocan& rsquo [& lsquosinews snapped, bone-locks burst & rsquo], (ll. 817 & ndash18). Grendel flygter, men Beowulf opgiver aldrig sit greb. Når støvet har lagt sig, bliver vores helt tilbage med monsteret & rsquos & lsquohond & hellip earm ond eaxle & hellip Grendles drue& rsquo [& lsquohand & hellip arm og skulder & hellip Grendel & rsquos greb & rsquo], (ll. 834 & ndash36).

Møde Grendel & rsquos mor

Beowulf kommer ud af denne første kamp en bona fide helt. Men vi fandt kun en tredjedel af vejen ind i digtet, og Grendel var kun starten på Beowulf & rsquos uhyrlige problemer. Selve natten efter, at Grendel haltede tilbage til sin hule, minus den ene arm, for at dø i fred, bliver danskerne angrebet igen (ll. 1279 & ndash99). Denne gang rsquos Grendel & rsquos mor, på udkig efter hævn. Hendes udseende ligner Grendel & rsquos, undtagen & lsquoidese onlicnes& rsquo [& lsquoin lignelsen af ​​en kvinde & rsquo], (l. 1351), men hendes angreb adskiller sig på nogle væsentlige måder. I stedet for at ødelægge engrosmord, dræber hun kun en dansker, inden hun flygter hjem med sin søn og rsquos afskårne arm. Manden, hun vælger, er & AEligschere, Hrothgar & rsquos nærmeste rådgiver, i et tit-for-tat-drab, der & rsquos betød at matche tabet af hendes eneste søn (ll. 1304 & ndash09). Det er et punkt, digteren kører hjem med et grimt ordspil, ligesom Beowulf tog Grendel & rsquos & lsquoearm ond eaxle&rsquo [&lsquoarm and shoulder&rsquo], (l. 835), now Grendel&rsquos mother has taken Hrothgar&rsquos &lsquoeaxlgestealla&rsquo [&lsquoshoulder companion&rsquo], (l. 1326).

Illustration from a 1975 edition of Beowulf

20th-century illustration depicting Beowulf holding Grendel&rsquos severed head, following the death of Grendel&rsquos mother.

Usage terms © Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Duelling with dragons

The final of the three monsters enters the poem late in Beowulf&rsquos life. No longer a young warrior out to make a name for himself, our hero is now an aged king when he is called on to defend his people from a fire-breathing dragon (ll. 2550&ndash2705). This is the most conventional of the monsters Beowulf encounters &ndash we all know a dragon when we see one &ndash yet it&rsquos also the most challenging. Beowulf does his duty, kitted out with weapons and armour that even he seems to know will do him no good:

wisse he gearwe
þæt him holtwudu helpan ne meahte,
lind wið lige. Sceolde lændaga
æþeling ærgod ende gebidan,
worulde lifes, ond se wyrm somod.
(ll. 2339&ndash43)

[ he clearly understood
that the forest-wood could not help him,
the wooden shield against the flames. The foremost prince
would have to endure the end of his transitory days,
his life in the world, and the dragon with him.]

Peraldus' Theological Miscellany

This illustration of a red fire-breathing dragon – from a much later manuscript, dated c. 1250 –1300 – conforms to our expectations of what a dragon should look like, and how it should behave.

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Aided by a young warrior called Wiglaf, Beowulf is able to strike a mortal blow right through &lsquowyrm on middan&rsquo [&lsquothe belly of the dragon&rsquo], (l. 2705). But, true to the prophetic lines above, Beowulf is himself grievously wounded. As his injuries &lsquoswelan ond swellan&rsquo [&lsquofester and boil&rsquo], (l. 2713), Beowulf is keenly aware &lsquoþæt he dæghwila gedrogen hæfde / eorðan wynne&rsquo [&lsquothat he had passed his share of days, his earthly joys&rsquo], (ll. 2725&ndash27). He dies gazing on &lsquoenta geweorc&rsquo [&lsquothe works of giants&rsquo], (l. 2717) &ndash the mound in which the dragon lived &ndash beside the corpse of this final monstrous foe (ll. 2794&ndash2820).

Marvels of the East

Illustration of a snake from The Marvels of the East. I Beowulf the 'draca' [dragon] is also described as a 'wyrm' [serpent].

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Moral and figurative threats: Greed, vengeance, isolation

Although the three monsters allow Beowulf to prove his heroism in battle, that&rsquos not their only purpose in the poem. The dragon is a literal threat to the safety of Beowulf&rsquos people, but in the way it behaves it represents a moral danger, too. Earlier in the poem, Hrothgar makes a lengthy speech warning against the dangers of greed (ll. 1709&ndash57), and he rewards Beowulf lavishly with gifts and weapons in return for killing the Grendels (ll. 1019&ndash55, 1866&ndash99). This, the poet tells us, is what a good leader does (ll. 20&ndash21). But the dragon, in contrast, doesn&rsquot behave like this at all. The havoc it wreaks on an entire kingdom is instigated by the theft of a single gold cup from its hoard (ll. 2293&ndash2310). Greed is a real concern in Beowulf: reflecting heroic Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon societies, the poem&rsquos human characters live and die by the generosity of their rulers. In standing against the dragon, Beowulf also stands against the greed it embodies.

We can see a similar moral aspect to the first two monsters. Grendel&rsquos mother attacks for one very simple reason: revenge. In a society that&rsquos heavily defined by loyalty and family ties, vengeance poses problems, fuelling violence, destruction and instability. We get a telling snapshot of a family torn apart by vengeance in the &lsquoFinnsburg Episode&rsquo (ll. 1070&ndash1158). Here, the Danish princess Hildeburh marries Finn, a Frisian king, in an attempt to create peace between two hostile nations. But all does not go to plan. Old wounds reopen, fighting resumes between the now in-laws, and by the end of the story Hildeburh&rsquos brother, son and husband are all dead. It&rsquos exactly this sort of destruction that Grendel&rsquos mother threatens when she attacks the Danes in her own quest for vengeance just a few lines later. Is vengeance ever justified? And where does it end?

This brings us back to Grendel. Earlier on I referred to Grendel as an unknown quantity, and that&rsquos the exact threat he poses. You&rsquoll notice that families and familial ties are a recurring theme throughout this poem. The whole story starts with an extended prologue that runs through four generations of Hrothgar&rsquos family tree before we get anywhere near the action (ll. 1&ndash85). All through the poem, characters are identified not by their names, but by their relationship to others. This ability to place oneself &ndash and be placed &ndash in a family and tribe is central to the social interactions of the poem, mirroring the culture of its Scandinavian setting. Grendel, though, is unplaceable. We know that he&rsquos descended from Cain (l. 106), and we also know that he has a mother, although we never learn her name. Beyond that, everything is a mystery: &lsquono hie fæder cunnon&rsquo [&lsquothey know of no father&rsquo], (l. 1355). Grendel is an outsider who lives apart, out in the wilderness, without family or friends to vouch for him. The threat he represents to the human world of the poem is simply that he has no legitimate stake in it.

Guthlac Roll

Synes godt om Beowulf, the story of the life of St Guthlac presents an isolated landscape as a site of danger and monstrosity. After a religious conversion, Guthlac lived in solitude in the Lincolnshire fens where he experienced a series of battles with ferocious demons.

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

That&rsquos one way of reading Beowulf and the monsters at its centre: the monsters are both physical threats to the poem&rsquos humans, and figurative ones as well. They literally kill people &ndash and sometimes eat them &ndash but they also embody the behaviours that threaten to undermine the social fabric that holds human communities together. Peace is fragile in the world of Beowulf, and it can be easily overturned by greed, or feuding or social isolation.

Monsters and heroes

If we push this reading further, though, things get more complicated. The opposition between human and monster is far murkier than we might think, especially when it comes to our hero. The first monster Beowulf fights is Grendel, the epitome of isolation and social exclusion. But Beowulf, too, is somewhat isolated. Like Grendel, he arrives in Denmark as an outsider, without warning and &lsquone &hellip leafnesword&rsquo [&lsquowithout permission&rsquo], (ll. 237&ndash47). Like Grendel, he has a muddied family history &ndash raised by his uncle after his father was banished as a trouble-maker responsible for causing &lsquofæhðe mæste&rsquo [&lsquothe greatest feud&rsquo], (ll. 459&ndash72). Like Grendel, he fights without weapons or armour (&lsquowit on niht sculon / secge ofersittan&rsquo, [&lsquowe both will forgo swords this night&rsquo], (ll. 677&ndash87)), and he holds his own in a match with a monster capable of killing 30 men single-handed.

If Grendel&rsquos isolation marks him as a monster, we should find the parallels in Beowulf&rsquos character more than a little disturbing. And these parallels only get stronger as the poem progresses. Grendel&rsquos mother may be motivated by vengeance, but Beowulf&rsquos response to her attack is indistinguishable: &lsquoselre bið æghwæm / þæt he his freond wrece þonne he fela murne&rsquo [&lsquoit is better for everyone to avenge friends than to mourn greatly&rsquo], (ll. 1384&ndash85). The eagerness with which Beowulf urges vengeance contrasts starkly with Hrothgar&rsquos more muted grief, and even with the poet&rsquos own reservations. We&rsquove already seen, in the Finnsburg section described above, how futile such feuds can be. Finally, as he lies mortally wounded beside the dragon&rsquos corpse, Beowulf&rsquos last wish is to see the riches that the dragon greedily defended (ll. 2743&ndash51). He dies gazing at what is now his very own treasure hoard (ll. 2794&ndash2801).

These parallels between monsters and heroes are not lost on the poet. There&rsquos an Old English word that&rsquos used a number of times in the poem to describe Grendel: &lsquoaglæca&rsquo (ll. 159, 425, 433 and more).The same term is later used of Grendel&rsquos mother (l. 1259) and the dragon (ll. 2520, 2534, and more). But here&rsquos the thing: it&rsquos also used to describe Beowulf (ll. 1512, 2592). How should we translate a word that somehow encapsulates both the best and the worst of characters? As Andy Orchard puts it:

Whatever the precise connotation of the term, the fact that the poet employs the word to designate not only monsters but monster-slayers clearly underlines the linked contrasts between the world of monsters and men which run through the poem. (p. 33)

Konklusion

The point is not that humans are the real monsters of Beowulf, nor that monsters are the true heroes. Rather, it&rsquos that the same qualities can be found in both &ndash for better or worse. Beowulf&rsquos supreme strength brings his character uncomfortably close to Grendel&rsquos, but it also makes him the only one capable of standing up to the monster. Without Beowulf, the Danes don&rsquot have a hope. Beowulf&rsquos physical prowess makes him an asset to his own people too. After a disastrous raid in Sweden, in which King Hygelac is killed, Beowulf returns home with the armour of 30 slain warriors in his bare hands (ll. 2354&ndash66). This is the same number of victims Grendel carried off in his first raid on Heorot, many years earlier (l. 122).

Beowulf returns to his people as a welcome hero. What does he look like to the Swedes? We&rsquore left to wonder. In the murky world of Beowulf &ndash where humans and monsters act from the same motives, in the same ways and are described using the very same words &ndash the line between hero and villain comes down to a matter of perspective: one person&rsquos Beowulf is another&rsquos Grendel.

Fodnoter

[1] Ker, W P, The Dark Ages (London: Blackwood, 1904), p.253

[2] Orchard, Andy, Pride and Prodigies: Studies in the Monsters of the Beowulf-Manuscript (Cambridge: D S Brewer, 1985), p.28

Jack, George, Beowulf: A Student Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994)

Victoria Symons is an Honorary Lecturer at University College London, where she teaches Old and Middle English literature. Her research focuses on medieval communication, in particular on runic writing, the theft of manuscripts, and various aspects of digital medievalism. Her publications include Runes and Roman Letters in Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, Stasis in the Medieval West? Questioning Change and Continuity, and articles on Old English charms and riddles, Beowulf, and Scandinavian runes.

The text in this article is available under the Creative Commons License.


What last thoughts does Beowulf express as he is dying? He wanted to see the treasure, but now that he is dying wants every one to remember him for all that he did. What is the most important event in Beowulf’s career as leader of the Geats? The attack of the dragon, his last battle where he dies.

Why is it ironic that after his death the Geats build a tower to memorialize Beowulf? Most of the Geats had deserted him in battle. ” ‘I mean to stand, not run from his shooting / FLames, stand till fate decides / Which of us wins.


Beowulf Grendel Quotes

‘If Grendel wins, it will be a gruesome day
he will glut himself on the Geats in the war-hall,
swoop without fear on that flower of manhood
as on others before. Then my face won’t be there
to be covered in death: he will carry me away
as he goes to ground, gorged and bloodied
he will run gloating with my raw corpse
and feed on it alone, in a cruel frenzy,
fouling his moor-nest.’

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

‘I have heard moreover that the monster scorns
in his reckless way to use weapons
therefore to heighten Hygelac’s fame
and gladden his heart, I hereby renounce
sword and the shelter of the broad shield,
the heavy war-board: hand-to-hand
is how it will be, a life-and-death
fight with the fiend. Whichever one death fells
must deem it a just judgment by God.’

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

So every elder and experienced councilman
among my people supported my resolve
to come here to you, King Hrothgar,
because all knew of my awesome strength.
They had seen me boltered in the blood of enemies
when I battled and bound five beasts,
raided a troll-next and in the night-sea
slaughtered sea-brutes. I have suffered extremes
and avenged the Geats (their enemies brought it
upon themselves, I devastated them).
Now I mean to be a match for Grendel,
settle the outcome in single combat.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

‘Now Holy God
has, in His Goodness, guided him here
to the West-Danes, to defend us from Grendel.
This is my hope and for his heroism
I will recompense him with a rich treasure.’

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

All were endangered young and old
Were hunted down by that dark death-shadow
Who lurked and swooped in the long nights
On the misty moors nobody knows
Where these reavers from Hell roam on their errands.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

For twelve winters, seasons of woe,
the lord of the Shieldings suffered under
his load of sorrow and so, before long,
the news was known over the whole world.
Sad lays were sung about the beset king,
the vicious raids and ravages of Grendel,
his long and unrelenting feud,
nothing but war.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

Suddenly then
the God-cursed brute was creating havoc:
greedy and grim, he grabbed thirty men
from their resting places and rushed to his lair,
flushed up and inflamed from the raid,
blundering back with the butchered corpses.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

Grendel was the name of this grim demon
Haunting the marches, marauding round the heath
And the desolate fens he had dwelt for a time
In misery among the banished monsters,
Cain’s clan, whom the creator had outlawed
And condemned as outcasts. For the killing of Abel
The Eternal Lord exacted a price:
Cain got no good from committing that murder
Because the Almighty made him anathema
And out of the curse of his exile there sprang
Ogres and elves and evil phantoms
And the giants too, who strove with God
Time and again until He gave them their reward.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

So times were pleasant for the people there
until finally one, a fiend out of hell,
began to work his evil in the world.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

Then a powerful demon, a prowler through the dark,
nursed a hard grievance. It harrowed him
to hear the din of the loud banquet
every day in the hall, the harp being struck
and the clear song of a skilled poet
telling with mastery of man’s beginnings,
how the Almighty had made the earth
a gleaming plain girdled with waters
in His splendour He set the sun and the moon
to be earth’s lamplight, lanterns for men,
and filled the broad lap of the world
with branches and leaves and quickened life
in every other thing that moved.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

When they joined the struggle
There was something they could have not known at the time,
That not blade on earth, no blacksmith’s art
Could ever damage their demon opponent.
He had conjured the harm from the cutting edge
Of every weapon.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

The story goes
that as the pair struggled, mead-benches were smashed
and sprung off the floor, gold fittings and all.
Before then, no Shielding elder would believe
there was any power or person on earth
capable of wrecking their horn-rigged hall
unless the burning embrace of a fire
engulf it in flame.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

And now the timbers trembled and sang,
a hall-session that harrowed every Dane
inside the stockade: stumbling in fury,
the two contenders crashed through the building.
The hall clattered and hammered, but somehow
survived the onslaught and kept standing:
it was handsomely structured, a sturdy frame
braced with the best of blacksmith’s work
inside and out.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

Venturing closer,
His talon was raised to attack Beowulf
where he lay on the bed he was bearing in
with open claw when the alert hero’s
comeback and armlock forestalled him utterly.
The captain of evil discovered himself
in a handgrip harder than anything
he had ever encountered in any man
on the face of the earth. Every bone in his body
Quailed and coiled, but he could not escape.
He was desperate to flee to his den and hide
With the devil’s litter, for in all his days
He had never been clamped or cornered like this.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

Nor did the creature keep him waiting
but struck suddenly and started in
he grabbed and mauled a man on his bench,
bit into his bone-lapping, bolted down his blood
and gorged on him in lumps, leaving the body
utterly lifeless, eaten up
hand and foot.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

Then his rage boiled over, he ripped open
the mouth of the building, maddening for blood,
pacing the length of the patterned floor
with his loathsome tread, while a baleful light,
flame more than light, flared from his eyes.
He saw many men in the mansion, sleeping,
a ranked company of kinsmen and warriors
quartered together. And his glee was demonic,
picturing the mayhem: before morning
he would rip life from limb and devour them,
feed on their flesh.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

In off the moors, down through the mist-bands
God-cursed Grendel came greedily loping.
The bane of the race of men roamed forth,
hunting for a prey in the high hall.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

‘I had a fixed purpose when I put to sea.
As I sat in the boat with my band of men,
I meant to perform to the uttermost
what your people wanted or perish in the attempt,
in the fiend’s clutches. And I shall fulfill that purpose,
prove myself with a proud deed
or meet my death here in the mead-hall.’

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

The fact is, Unferth, if you were truly
as keen and courageous as you claim to be
Grendel would never have got away with
such unchecked atrocity, attacks on your king,
havoc in Heorot and horrors everywhere.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

Time and again, foul things attacked me,
Lurking and stalking, but I lashed out,
Gave as good as I got with my sword.
My flesh was not for feasting on,
There would be no monsters gnawing and gloating
Over their banquet at the bottom of the sea.
Instead, in the morning, mangled and sleeping
The sleep of the sword, they slopped and floated
Like the ocean’s leavings.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

The monster wrenched and wrestled with him
but Beowulf was mindful of his mighty strength,
the wondrous gifts God had showered on him:
he relied for help on the Lord of All,
on His care and favor. So he overcame the foe,
brought down the hell-brute.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

He has done his worst but the wound will end him.
He is hasped and hooped and hirpling with pain,
limping and looped in it. Like a man outlawed
for wickedness, he must await
the mighty judgement of God in majesty.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

‘First and foremost, let the Almighty Father
be thanked for this sight. I suffered a long
harrowing by Grendel. But the Heavenly Shepherd
can work His wonders always and everywhere…
I adopt you in my heart as a dear son.
Nourish and maintain this new connection,
you noblest of men there’ll be nothing you’ll want for,
no worldly goods that won’t be yours.
I have often honored smaller achievements,
recognized warriors not nearly as worthy,
lavished rewards on the less deserving.
But you have made yourself immortal
by your glorious action.’

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

The monster’s whole
body was in pain, a tremendous wound
appeared on his shoulder. Sinews split and the bone-lappings burst. Beowulf was granted
the glory of winning Grendel was driven
under the fen-banks, fatally hurt, to his desolate lair.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

A brutal plunder. Beowulf in his fury
now settled that score: he saw the monster
in his resting place, war-weary and wrecked,
a lifeless corpse, a casualty
of the battle in Heorot. The body gaped
at the stroke dealt to it after death:
Beowulf cut the corpse’s head off.

– Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

‘She has taken up the feud
Because of last night, when you killed Grendel,
Wrestled and racked him in ruinous combat
Since for too long he had terrorized us
With his depredations. He died in battle,
Paid with his life and now this powerful
Other one arrives, this force for evil
Driven to avenge her kinsman’s death.
Or so it seems to thanes in their grief,
In the anguish every thane endures
At the loss of a ring-giver, now that the hand
That bestowed so richly has been stilled in death.’


Spoiling the Mystery: Grendel in Beowulf Movies

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” (H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature). The secret to any, successful scary monster story is to keep your monsters clouded in mystery a secret that was known to the Beowulf poet, but sadly lost on modern movie makers.

Grendel goes to Heorot

Grendel is one of the three monsters that feature in the Old English poem Beowulf. We are introduced to Grendel as an “ellengæst” [bold spirit] (l. 86a) who has spent the last twelve years harassing the hall of the Danish king Hrothgar, devouring anyone who spent the night there. A Geatish hero, Beowulf, arrives to save the day. After a long battle, Beowulf rips off Grendel’s arm and the monster, mortally wounded, returns to his home in the swamp and dies.

A troll, a giant, a monstrous man or a bipedal dragon what exactly is Grendel? The nature of Grendel is a matter of scholarly debate and the various solutions offered depend, mostly, on circumstantial evidence. The poem itself reveals very little about the monster at one point, Beowulf himself confesses that Grendel is “sceaðona ic nat hwylc” [an enemy, I do not know what kind] (l. 274b). Throughout the poem, Grendel is described by generic terms, such as “grimma gæst” [grim spirit] (l. 102), “feond mancynnes” [enemy of mankind] (l. 164b) and “manscaða” [vile ravager] (l. 712a), and his physical description leaves much to be desired. At first, we only learn that “him of eagum stod ligge gelicost leoht unfæger” [from his eyes issued a distorted light, most like a flame] (l. 727b), that he drinks human blood and eats their bodies whole. It is only after Grendel is defeated that we learn a little more about him. The Danes report that he was wretchedly shaped like a man and very large:

We saw two monsters… © The British Library, Cotton Vitellius A.XV, fol. 162v-163r

hie gesawon swylce twegen
micle mearcstapan moras healdan,
ellorgæstas. ðæra oðer wæs,
þæs þe hie gewislicost gewitan meahton,
idese onlicnæs oðer earmsceapen
on weres wæstmum wræclastas træd,
næfne he wæs mara þonne ænig man oðer
þone on geardagum Grendel nemdon
foldbuende. No hie fæder cunnon (ll. 1347-1355)

[they had seen two such big boundary-steppers holding the moors, bold spirits. One f them was, as they were most certainly able to discern, in the likeness of a lady the other was wretchedly shaped in the forms of a man, he trod in the exile’s tracks, but he was bigger than any other man people called him grendel in the days of yore. They did not know his father.

Whatever kind of monster Grendel may be, what becomes clear from the poem is that Grendel is the ultimate ‘Other’. While the Danes enjoy life in a lighted hall, revelling in songs and enjoying each other’s company, Grendel dwells in a dark swamp, he does not speak and he lives the life of an exile, alone with his mother. Even Grendel’s parentage is obscured: whereas the Beowulf poet, rather annoyingly, mentions the father of every other Tom, Dick and Harry in the poem, we never find out who Grendel’s father is. We do learn that Grendel and his mother are descendants of Cain, just like “eotenas ond ylfe ond orcneas, swylce gigantas” [ogres, elves, orcs and also giants] (ll. 112-113a).

In short, Grendel is a mystery monster, unknown and different. Det Beowulf poet must have realised that the omission of descriptive details was an effective narrative method which would stimulate his audience to participate actively with his story. The vague description of his monster allowed his audience to imagine its own nightmare being.

Grendel goes to Hollywood

Beowulf has been brought to the big screen on six occasions (Not counting the Beowulf-inspired TV episodes of Animated Epics, Star Trek og Xena: Warrior Princess and happily ignoring the rather licentious adaptations in the Sci-Fi-Channel television film Grendel (2007) and the ITV Series Beowulf: Return to the Shield Lands). Each movie has solved the Grendel mystery in its own, unique way.

I Grendel, Grendel, Grendel (1981), an animated musical, Grendel is depicted as a slightly depressed green crocodile or, possibly, a dragon without wings. Filmen Beowulf (1999) features Christopher Lambert as Beowulf who battles Grendel, a muddy ogre of sorts, in a ‘post-apocalyptic techno-feudal future’. I The 13th Warrior (1999), the Viking hero Buliwyf takes on the Wendol, a group of bearskin wearing wildlings. Beowulf & Grendel (2005) depicts Grendel as an oversized, hairy human, who hits himself with rocks until his forehead bleeds. In the 3D animation Beowulf (2007), Grendel is “a hideously disfigured troll-like creature with superhuman strength”. Finally, in the movie Outlander (2008), Kainan (a man from another planet) crashes his spaceship in an eighth-century Norwegian lake and, accidentally brings along an alien, known as the Moorwen. The Moorwen takes on the role of Grendel and is best described as a fluorescent, reptile-like tiger with various tentacles at the end of its tail.

Three more movie Grendels

Sympathy for the devil: Feeling sorry for Grendel

Aside from making the monster’s appearance explicit, some movies also try to make their audience sympathize for the creature by adding motives for his vicious attacks on the Danes. I Grendel, Grendel, Grendel, the monster is a misunderstood intellectual that wants to be friends with the buffoonish Danes, who shun him for his monstrous appearance. Beowulf & Grendel opens with a scene where the young Grendel (a bearded baby!) witnesses the murder of his father by the Danish king. I Outlander, we learn that the Moorwen is only trying to avenge Kainan for having tried to colonize its home planet.

Poor, polite Grendel and nasty Danes in Grendel, Grendel, Grendel (1981)

Who’s your daddy? Solving Grendel’s parentage

The films Beowulf (1999) and Beowulf (2007) go one step further and even solve the problem of Grendel’s parentage: Grendel turns out to be the monstrous offspring of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes. His vicious attacks on Hrothgar’s hall thus become payback for a fatherless childhood. Far removed from the original poem, the only advantage of this approach appears to be the casting of a physically attractive actress for the role of Grendel’s mother. While the poem describes her as a “brimwylf” [sea-wolf] (l. 1506a) and an “aglaecwif” [opponent-woman] (l.1259a), the 1999 film featured Layla Roberts, a former playmate (who, in one scene, erotically licks Hrothgar’s nose!), and a 3D animation of Angelina Jolie (naked, covered in gold, with a tail!) was one of the ‘unique selling points’ of the 2007 film.

Grendel’s mother licking Hrothgar’s nose in Beowulf (1999)

To conclude, none of these movies can be seen as a faithful adaptation of Beowulf and some have argued that film is an unsuited medium for the early medieval epic poem. As long as modern movie makers feel that they need to produce stunning visual effects, to create a sense of sympathy for the ‘bad guy’ and to include steamy bedroom scenes to please their modern audience, this certainly seems to be the case. Unlike the Old English poem, none of these movies can be called a huge success in terms of cultural impact and popularity. When it comes to effective storytelling, there is still a lot we can learn from the literature produced over a thousand years ago.


Indhold

Beowulf (poem)

Grendel is described as a 'fiend from Hell', enraged from the laughter and merry-making coming from the Hrothgar's meadhall, and goes on a terrible and destructive rampage, slaughtering and eating 50 of the kings warriors on the first night. This goes on for the next 12 long and bloody years, with nobody being able to stop Grendel. Eventually, King Hrothgar tires of this, so he sends for a champion to final rid him of the monster. The mighty Thane warrior Beowulf and his men are eventually called upon and sent to the kingdom.

Once they arrive, they make merry in the meadhall to get Grendel's attention. Later in the night, Grendel sneaks in and begins eating Beowulf's men. Unfortunately for him, Beowulf had been waiting for him and when Grendel tries to eat him, Beowulf grabs him by the wrist and they begin to fight. A horrific battle ensues, climaxing with Beowulf ripping off Grendel's arm at the shoulder socket. Grendel retreats to his cave where he bleeds to death in his mother's arms, having just enough life left in him to tell his mother the name of the man who killed him. She later confronts Beowulf for revenge.

Beowulf (film)

His most famous media portrayal was in the rendered 3D motion capture film directed by Robert Zemeckis, where he was played by Crispin Glover. He is portrayed as King Hrothgar's illegitimate son after an affair with his mother. Essentially in this version, he is a very thoughtful and sympathetic villain because he is an outcast. When not attacking the Danes, he is shown as a timid and quiet creature that speaks in Olde English around his mother. The reasons for his attacks are due to having hyper-sensitive hearing from an exposed eardrum, and the racket from the meadhall was causing him physical pain. Despite being more sympathetic, his fate is still the same as in the poem. Beowulf slams the door into his arm with enough force to take it off, and hang it over the meadhall door.

Grendel in the 2007 film Beowulf.

The philosophy professor Stephen T. Asma argued in the December 7 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education that, "Zemeckis's more tender-minded film version suggests that the people who cast out Grendel are the real monsters. The monster, according to this charity paradigm, is just misunderstood rather than evil. The blame for Grendel's violence is shifted to the humans, who sinned against him earlier and brought the vengeance upon themselves. The only real monsters, in this tradition, are pride and prejudice. In the film, Grendel is even visually altered after his injury to look like an innocent, albeit scaly, little child. In the original Beowulf, the monsters are outcasts because they're bad (just as Cain, their progenitor, was outcast because he killed his brother), but in the newer adaptation of Beowulf the monsters are bad because they're outcasts [. ] Contrary to the original Beowulf, the new film wants us to understand and humanize our monsters."

Grendel, Grendel, Grendel

Grendel as he is portrayed in Grendel Grendel Grendel.

The Australian animated film Grendel, Grendel, Grendel, is based on John Gardner's the story, told from Grendel's point of view. The film shows how the events weren't his fault, and were mostly to blame on the greed and aggression of the humans. He is voiced by the late Peter Ustinov. He was a highly intelligent being, possibly smarter than the humans living in his time period. He questioned the purpose of his existence, and was very philosophical, reflecting on the humans and hating them, but secretly wishing he was one of them.

Other Appearances

I The Wolf Among Us, Grendel is a fable that lives in Fabletown located in New York City. He is very ill-tempered, argumentative, impatient, and tired of being treated like a second rate citizen. He sees the establishment of Fabletown as corrupt and only interested in the rich, and he aims these frustrations mostly at the sheriff of Fabletown, Bigby Wolf, otherwise known as the Big Bad Wolf. Grendel serves as an antagonist in the first episode of the Wolf Among Us.


Essay On Huckleberry Finn Should Be Banned

Today’s world is so different than how it was back in the ages of History where everyone was not always politically correct. Some people are offended by the language in this novel, but the truth is it is a part of History that happened and we can’t just pretend it didn’t. The controversy still stands today that the content in this novel is inappropriate and not acceptable or racist. If you believe this or you don’t it still does not change the fact that things in history didn’t happen. If this is the case a lot of things now would be banned.&hellip


Bibliografi

Bergen, Richard Angelo. “A Warp of Horror”: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sub-Creations of Evil.” Mythlore, Vol. 36, Issue 1, 2017, pp. 103-121. Web. Accessed 14 November 2017

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “The Ruins of Identity.” Of Giants: Sex, Monsters, and the Middle Ages. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. Print.

Gardner, John. Grendel. New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 1989. Print

Mittman, Asa Simon. Inconceivable Beasts: Then Wonders of the East in the Beowulf Manuscript. Tempe, Arizona: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2013. Print.

Mittman, Asa Simon. “Monsters and the Exotic in Early Medieval England.” Literature Compass, Vol. 6, Issue 2, 2009, pp. 332-348. Web. Accessed 7 December 2017.


Se videoen: Animated Epics: BEOWULF 1998 TV Movie 360p HQ - Classic animation (Juli 2022).


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