Beowulf: Characterization in Grendel

Beowulf: Characterization in Grendel

Grendel:
A monster who attacks the Danes
Beowulf:
The hero that kills Grendel
Hrothgar:
The King of the Danes
Point of view is _______
The position from which a story is narrated
A _________ narrative is told from the point of view of a single character who uses the pronouns I, we, and me
First-person
A _________ narrative is told from the point of view of a narrator who refers to characters with the pronouns he, she or they
Third-person
First-person
* I woke up early that day
* He hugged me, and I smiled
Third-person
* She dove into the lake
* Carlos caught the ball
A character’s ________ is his or her way of thinking about or seeing a situation
Perspective

What is Grendel’s perspective on the people he observes?

Now and then some trivial argument would break out, and one of them would kill another one, and all the others would detach themselves from the killer as neatly as blood clotting, and they’d consider the case and they’d either excuse him, for some reason, or else send him out to the forest to live by stealing from their outlying pens like a wounded fox. At times I would try to befriend the exile, at other times I would try to ignore him, but they were treacherous. In the end, I had to eat them.

He thinks they are violent and untrustworthy.
characterization is __________
The way an author presents or develops a character
To analyze characterization, consider
* The character’s words and thoughts
* The character’s actions
* The character’s perspective

How is Grendel characterized in this passage?

A man would roar, “I’ll steal their gold and burn their meadhall!” shaking his sword as if the tip were afire, and a man with eyes like two pins would say, “Do it now, Cowface! I think you’re not even the man your father was!” The people would laugh. I would back away into the darkness, furious at my stupid need to spy on them, and I would glide to the next camp of men, and I’d hear the same.

Grendel is critical of himself but unable to contain his curiosity.
Which statement describes the narrative point of view in Grendel?
The novel uses first-person narration to show Grendel’s perspective.

Based on the passage, what is Grendel’s perspective on Hrothgar and his people?

His power overran the world, from the foot of my cliff to the northern sea to the impenetrable forests south and east. They hacked down trees in widening rings around their central halls and blistered the land with peasant huts and pigpen fences till the forest looked like an old dog dying of mange. They thinned out the game, killed birds for sport, set accidental fires that would burn for days. Their sheep killed hedges, snipped valleys bare, and their pigs nosed up the very roots of what might have grown.

He thinks they are destructive and inconsiderate.

What is Grendel’s perspective on the men’s fighting?

It was confusing and frightening, not in a way I could untangle. I was safe in my tree, and the men who fought were nothing to me, except of course that they talked in something akin to my language, which meant that we were, incredibly, related. I was sickened, if only at the waste of it: all they killed—cows, horses, men—they left to rot or burn.

He thinks the fighting is foolish and wasteful

How is Grendel characterized in this passage?

It was confusing and frightening, not in a way I could untangle. I was safe in my tree, and the men who fought were nothing to me, except of course that they talked in something akin to my language, which meant that we were, incredibly, related. I was sickened, if only at the waste of it: all they killed—cows, horses, men—they left to rot or burn.

He is confused, cautious, and easily upset.

How is Grendel characterized in this passage?

I was so filled with sorrow and tenderness I could hardly have found it in my heart to snatch a pig!

Grendel is emotional and sensitive.
“Beowulf”
* Is an epic poem from around 1000 CE
* Focuses on the character of Beowulf
* Relies on third-person narration
* Records traditional stories that circulated orally for many generations
“Grendel”
* Is a novel that was published in 1971
* Focuses on the character of Grendel
* Relies on first-person narration
* Reimagines characters and events from Beowulf
These passages from Beowulf and Grendel describe feasts in Hrothgar’s hall. Write three to four sentences comparing and contrasting how the people are characterized in each passage. Use details from the text to support your answer.

In Beowulf, the warriors are very calm and polite at the feast. The minstrel’s song makes them happy, but they do not become overly emotional or wild. In Grendel, however, the men seem wild and out of control after they hear the song. Grendel describes the men as “mad” and says that their “howling and clapping and stomping” is frightening.

* How the people are characterized in Beowulf
* How the people are characterized in Grendel
* Details from the text

How can a new interpretation change our understanding of a story?
A new interpretation can provide a different perspective on the events in a story and give readers insight into a character’s thoughts, feelings and motivations

What does the author use in this excerpt to develop Grendel’s character?

It wasn’t because he threw that battle-ax that I turned on Hrothgar. That was mere midnight foolishness. I dismissed it, thought of it afterward only as you remember a tree that fell on you or an adder you stepped on by accident, except of course that Hrothgar was more to be feared than a tree or snake. It wasn’t until later, when I was full-grown and Hrothgar was an old, old man, that I settled my soul on destroying him—slowly and cruelly.

Grendel’s thoughts
In Grendel, John Gardner uses
First-person point of view to help readers see Grendel’s side of a familiar story.
I was safe in my tree, and the men who fought were nothing to me, except of course that they talked in something akin to my language, which meant that we were, incredibly, related.

This is an example of a:

First-person narrative showing Grendel’s perspective.

How is Grendel characterized in this excerpt?

Now and then some trivial argument would break out, and one of them would kill another one, and all the others would detach themselves from the killer as neatly as blood clotting, and they’d consider the case and they’d either excuse him, for some reason, or else send him out to the forest to live by stealing from their outlying pens like a wounded fox. At times I would try to befriend the exile, at other times I would try to ignore him, but they were treacherous. In the end, I had to eat them.

Practical

Which statement best describes Grendel’s perspective?

Then they would fight. Spears flying, swords whonking, arrows raining from the windows and doors of the meadhall and the edge of the woods. Horses reared and fell over screaming, ravens flew, crazy as bats in a fire, men staggered, gesturing wildly, making speeches, dying or sometimes pretending to be dying, sneaking off. Sometimes the attackers would be driven back, sometimes they’d win and burn the meadhall down, sometimes they’d capture the king of the meadhall and make his people give weapons and gold rings and cows.
It was confusing and frightening, not in a way I could untangle. I was safe in my tree, and the men who fought were nothing to me, except of course that they talked in something akin to my language, which meant that we were, incredibly, related. I was sickened, if only at the waste of it: all they killed—cows, horses, men—they left to rot or burn.

He feels disgusted by the wasteful nature of war.
Which comparison of Beowulf and Grendel is most accurate?
In the poem, Grendel seems like a heartless monster, but in the novel he is emotionally complex.
If Grendel wins, it will be a gruesome day;
he will glut himself on the Geats in the war-hall,
swoop without fear on that flower of manhood
as on others before. Then my face won’t be there
to be covered in death: he will carry me away
as he goes to ground, gorged and bloodied;
he will run gloating with my raw corpse
and feed on it alone, in a cruel frenzy,
fouling his moor-nest.

This version of Grendel is more ________ than the version in John Gardner’s novel.

Vicious

How is Grendel characterized in this excerpt?

Thus I fled, ridiculous hairy creature torn apart by poetry—crawling, whimpering, streaming tears, across the world like a two-headed beast, like mixed-up lamb and kid at the tail of a baffled, indifferent ewe—and I gnashed my teeth and clutched the sides of my head as if to heal the split, but I couldn’t.

As upset and confused
Which statements accurately compare Beowulf and Grendel? Check all that apply.
* Beowulf characterizes Grendel as bloodthirsty, but Grendel shows Grendel’s gentler side.
* Beowulf is sympathetic to the humans, while Grendel shows the monster’s perspective.

What does the author use in this excerpt to develop Grendel’s character?

I clamped my palms to my ears and stretched up my lips and shrieked again: a stab at truth, a snatch at apocalyptic glee. Then I ran on all fours, chest pounding, to the smoky mere.

The creature’s actions