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Grendel Summary

Grendel Summary
Grendel Background Information
Lucy Summary
Lucy Background Information

Grendel is a novel written by John Gardner about a beast in 4th century Scandinavia. Although he seems like nothing more than a savage monster, this beast is highly intellectual and sophisticated.  He lives with his mother who he dislikes because she lacks the ability to converse with Grendel.  Although he is dependant on her to save him for much of his early life, as the novel progresses the roles are exchanged and she relies on him to bring her food.  One day as he was caught between two trees he was approached by a group of men who attacked him for no reason.  Among these men were Hrothgar, King of the Danes. Hrothgar was the smartest of the kings because as they were busy squabbling amongst themselves he was forging an empire by befriending his neighbors.

    When Grendel visited the lair of the dragon, who it seemed had been beckoning him, he began to ask Grendel philosophical questions and give him long speeches about how life was meaningless and pointless and how he should do whatever he wanted because there was no reason not to.  The dragon has also enchanted Grendel so that he cannot be hurt. This brings Grendel further into isolation because instead of fighting the men he cant immediately eat them.  One of the strongest men, Unferth approaches Grendel and learns how he is invincible and intelligent.  Unferth begins to talk about how, the hero, will slay the evil Grendel.  Grendel protects Unferth for years to mock him and not give him the satisfaction of dieing a hero's death.

    As Grendel continues raiding the Meadhalls of King Hrothgar, he begins to sense an ominous danger approaching.  He learns that men have come from oversees with the sole intention of killing Grendel. The largest of them, Beowulf, promises King Hrothgar that he will kill him.  One night Grendel breaks into the meadhall and eats a sleeping man, as he goes to eat another man, he realizes that the second man is not sleeping, but it is Beowulf, who rips off the arm of the surprised Grendel. As Grendel runs away he dies in the forest with the animals he hates for their stupidity.