In this story how does Grendel's status as a monster affect the way he tells the story?

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a self-identified monster, Grendel remains outside the realm of mortals, but constantly observes them. His ideas of life do not match those of the humans, allowing him a view separate from the original poem, yet inextricably bound with the fate of those around him. There's no doubt that Grendel is bloodthirsty, cruel, vicious, and holding no regard for lives of any kind. Yet, at the same time, Grendel feels as passionately as any human he meets. When he is young, he is caught in a tree. He is attacked by a bull, stabbed by men, and essentially tortured. During this ordeal, he frequently cries for his mother. He is also moved by the songs of the Shaper. Although he labels them as lies and illusions, Grendel is as drawn to those songs as the men, wanting to believe in the Shaper's words.

Perhaps most importantly, Grendel uses language to define himself and his world. He has no one with whom to communicate, as his mother cannot speak, and men cannot understand him. This one fragile link, destroyed by the humans' inability to translate his language, becomes what separates him the most. When he tries to join the warriors in the meadhall, he is misunderstood and turned on by fearful men. By telling these events from his point of view, Grendel wins the reader's sympathy and understanding.

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