Saturday, May 16, 2020

Life Value vs. Existentialism in Grendel Essay examples

A main theme in John Gardner’s Grendel, is the constant competition of the ideas of meaning in life versus existentialism. Throughout the novel, Grendel makes a steady spiritual decay to the point of denying any value or significance in life itself. He believes the world is nothing more than â€Å"a mechanical chaos of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly impose our hopes and fears†(16). This progression starts at a young age, and through out the twelve years of Grendel’s life, he grows closer to a total commitment to this theory. Because of the actions of his mother, the dragon, and man in general, Grendel ultimately dies in the misery that has been created by this belief of his life being nothing but programming, machinery, and random†¦show more content†¦When the bull is trying to attack him, he notices â€Å"He’d struck too low, and even in my terror I understood that he would always strike too low: he fought by instinct, blind mechani sm ages old† (16). While wanting to deny it, Grendel first realizes here his ongoing theory that all living things are mechanical, driven only by what they are programmed to do. Here is where he first loses a large part of his innocence, finding himself having to face the split down the middle of his mentality, between skepticism and believing that life has significance. This begins his downfall to ultimate nihilism. Shortly after this scene, when Grendel has his first encounter with men, he realizes a contradiction to his theory of mechanism. Hearing their â€Å"crackpot theories†(64), he recognizes that he is not dealing with a â€Å"dull mechanical bull, but with thinking creatures, pattern makers, the most dangerous things [he’d] ever met† (21). Grendel believes the human to be â€Å"dangerous,† because they challenge his theory of mechanism. It worries Grendel, seeing that there are beings who can in fact think for themselves and create their own destiny. He sees their challenge to his original belief, noticing the seemingly random theories they express when coming across Grendel, who at the time is caught in a tree. Grendel believes their speculations are â€Å" all crazyâ€Å" (20). Despite humans not being mechanical, Grendel still sees them as nothing more

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