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What is the relationship between Grendel and Hrothgar in Beowulf?

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tonywroteit | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 19, 2011 at 10:44 PM via web

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What is the relationship between Grendel and Hrothgar in Beowulf?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 12, 2012 at 12:53 AM (Answer #1)

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The relationship between Hrothgar and Grendel, in Beowulf, is one of utter hatred. Hrothgar has built a mead hall, Heorot, to celebrate God and his power. Grendel, on the other hand, hates God. His anger stems from the fact that he is in exile given the sins of his ancestors.

Therefore, Grendel cannot come into the light (a symbol of God in the epic tale). That said, Grendel is a creature of the night and only comes out after the light of God has "set." Upon hearing the singing and praise of God, Grendel becomes infuriated and decides to take out his anger upon Hrothgar and his people.

Grendel enter into Heorot and murders many of the people. Hrothgar is so grief stricken that he closes the doors of Heorot. After the celebrating ends, Grendel does not come back.

It is not until Beowulf shows up at Heorot, after hearing of Hrothgar's "problem," that Grendel becomes a threat again. Beowulf orders the mead hall reopened. Hrothgar obliges and Grendel is killed that night.

Essentially, Hrothgar and Grendel are mortal enemies given Hrothgar worships God and Grendel hates God.

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