Grendel is the story of the battle between the monster Grendel and the Scandinavian King Hrothgar, told through the eyes of the monster. The story highlights the various encounters between the monster and the men who hate and fear him but who are powerless to do anything to him, until a stranger from across the waters comes to end Grendel’s life.
Grendel lives in an undersea cave with his mother but spends most of his time wandering through the forests, observing the men and women in the various villages and fortresses built across the countryside. Angered by a rebuff that he receives from Hrothgar and his thanes, Grendel vows to make life miserable for the king. At will, he raids human dwellings, destroying life and property with delight. He takes particular pleasure in wreaking havoc in Hart, the hall that Hrothgar builds as a showplace and from which he reigns as a kind of overlord.
None of Hrothgar’s warriors can match the monster’s strength, and Grendel mocks them because they are boastful at banquets but unable to live up to their claims when put to the test. He is especially harsh on Unferth, Hrothgar’s greatest warrior; when Unferth follows the monster to his underwater lair, Grendel taunts him about the poor state of men who claim to be heroes, then renders him unconscious and delivers him back to Hart, unharmed, so he must suffer shame before his peers.
Grendel is not the only enemy Hrothgar faces. Even...
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