The epic of Beowulf is truly a work of classic literature which has spanned thousands of years in folklore infamy. With the passing of more than a thousand years gone by, Beowulf is still going wrong in today's culture and has been the subject of countless spin offs and interpretations each giving to the original in it's own way. Particularly, the novel Grendel contributes to the legend Beowulf greatly in a contemporary sense where the adversary to Beowulf, Grendel is the main character living out his life up to the point of being killed by Beowulf. This adaptation therefore holds value in the face of the original by lending a second perspective to the main conflict of the epic. What is the meaning of life? What is good and evil, is there such a thing? These questions and more are addressed in the novel and help us as readers uncover the real meaning of the original on a whole new level! Therefore, by examining the contents of Grendel, us as readers can see why this adaptation lends a hand to the original, and in turn how it beat out all other contenders for being the go to modern adaptation of this literary masterpiece.
To begin, Grendel holds a definitive superiority over other types of Beowulf literature, including the numerous comic books published in the epic's honor. For one, while the novel narrates the life of Grendel, giving insight into his depressing nihilistic outlook on life stating, "Now invulnerable I was as solitary as one live tree in a vast landscape of coal" (76) the comic book on the other hand has a foolish, and childish depiction of Grendel where it makes him out to be a spawn of the devil and un-loyal to the original as possible. In addition, while the novel has some fortune cookies to walk away with, "For the world is divided experience teaches, into two parts, things to be murdered, and things that would hinder on the murder of things."(158) the comic on the utter hand spouts foolishness that would make even the simplest child roll their eyes, "Wiglaf experiences the spine-chill of onrushing doom."(Beowulf Dragon Slayer pg. 5) Overall, Grendel is a high brow tale that gives the reader a whole new outlook on life while this comic makes me look for the garbage, not even the recycling.
In addition, Grendel is superior to a number of types of Beowulf fan fare, including the likes of Beowulf and friends on the big screen. For one, the novel gives insight into how Grendel meets and grows to despise the humans, finding them hypocritical monsters, whose mouths speak one word and their hearts another. "I was Grendel, Ruiner of Mead-halls, Wrecker of Kings! But also, as never before, I was alone."(80) From the novel, we are given an intriguing backdrop into internal battle the lost Grendel attempts to find purpose in any part or role in life, even that of a monster. Comparatively, a film The Demon Grendel as well attempts to portray the epic in modern terms and once again- falls short. While on one hand Grendel battles demons on the inside, in this interpretation Grendel is merely portrayed as a emotionless, unintelligent furious monster incapable of anything besides hate and murder. But is Grendel just good writing, what makes this adaptation better when comparing content and correlations with the original? Upon examination, we can see that the novel is superior in both aspects, a quote from the original reads, " Jealous of the Danes" (134) when referring to Grendel. No argument here, intellectual and true to the original, Grendel takes the cake again.
Finally, the Grendel novel show's it superiority over all other forms of Beowulf literature by keeping it's own identity and staying consistent to the original story . While only a portion of the epic may have been read by us students, us and most literature-savvy folk will know the story of Beowulf and therefore will be able to distinguish between literature written for amusement and literature written for meaning. This novel is written for meaning, as we see in the final chapter of Grendel his conclusive battle with Beowulf is consistent with the epic and some of Grendel's last words illuminate the apparent theme of nihilism in the novel. "Mama, mama!" Grendel did cry rushing back to his cave to await the knocking of death at his door. How ironic, Grendel's obsession and climax in the novel goes back to his initial fascination with leaving this "meaningless world"(91) Yet how true as well, is how this novel is a prequel worthy of the original, through it's own spin on Grendel, it's loyalty to the original, and it's thought provoking themes.
"Beowulf." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
DC Comics. "Beowulf Dragon Slayer." Comic strip. Comic Code Authority. 1st ed. Vol. .:
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"Grendel Quotes." BookRags. BookRags, Aug. 2007. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
"Grendel." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 May 2013. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.