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Grendel Background Information
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Grendel
Grendel Summary
Grendel Background Information
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SETTING

The story of Grendel takes place in fourth century Denmark.

CHARACTERS

Grendel- Grendel is the narrator of the story. He resides in a cave near the castle of King Hrothgar. As the story progresses he grows from a  weakling of a creature into a fearless beast. Through the story he is torn apart by inner conflict. On one side he wants to join the Danes so he is  no longer isolated, while on the other side he is told by a wise dragon that life is pointless and he should kill everyone and take their riches.

Grendel's Mother- A beast who Grendel loves and resents at the same time. She cannot speak and attempts communication with Grendel by caressing and holding him. Although she is dependant on Grendel, she usually saves him when he is in need of assistance.

The Dragon- a huge beast feared by all creatures, even Grendel. The dragon is wise and all knowing, and can even see into the future. He enjoys tormenting Grendel by making long speeches then becomes enrages when Grendel does not understand. He gives Grendel the philosophy that he should kill the Danes and collect their treasure for himself.

King Hrothgar- King of the Danes. At the beginning of the story he seems childish by throwing an axe at Grendel, but as the story progresses he becomes wiser and soon becomes one of the greatest kings of the Danes. He creates an empire which is slowly destroyed by fighting amongst one another.

Hrothulf- Hrothgar's nephew, who comes to live with Hrothgar after his father is murdered. He always wants to solve philosophical problems but never makes any physical progress in solving them. He usually does nothing more but whine and rant. He also has ambitions for his uncle's throne.

The Shaper- The Shaper represents the power of art and imagination to change people’s perceptions about themselves and the world in which they live. He makes Grendel become violent so that the Shaper will write poems and songs about Grendel, The Wrecker of Meadhalls.

Beowulf- Although Beowulf's name is never mentioned in the book, it is known that the stranger who comes to kill Grendel is Beowulf. He is the only person who uses his wits to defeat Grendel. Although Grendel thinks that his death was accidental, it was due to careful planning on behalf of Beowulf. Beowulf accomplishes in one night what Hrothgar's castle could not do in twelve years.

THEMES

The pain of isolation, which converts Grendel from a beast who wants to befriend and join the Danes to a beast who will stop at nothing to destroy them.

The power of stories, Grendel finds the epic poems so stirring that he wants to be a part of them, even if it means he must be forever trapped in the role of the villain.

TONE

The book has a very dark and sad mood

CONFLICT

The main conflict is an inner conflict of Grendel trying to understand his place in a meaningless world, while there is an outer conflict between Grendel and King Hrothgar and his soldiers.