grendel the murderous monster
grendel is a monster that seems to embody evil. he is given no definite shape and very little personality. he seeks to destroy. he kills without mercy. he cannot be reasoned with. in a scene in which he kills thirty sleeping men, grendel is described as 'insensible to pain and human sorrow.' he is a 'god-cursed brute' (lines 119-121). why would grendel do all of this? there are a few possible reasons. hrothgar, the king of heorot hall, which is the place grendel keeps attacking, believes that grendel is just evil by nature. grendel is called a 'fiend out of hell' and a 'banished monster.' this is how most of the characters in the story understand grendel. monsters are destructive - it's just what they do. but there is a more sympathetic way to understand him.
grendel has lived in the same place for a very, very long time. hrothgar is new to the neighborhood. when hrothgar built his mead hall, which is like a castle, he brought a lot of very noisy people to the area. they used the natural resources and disturbed grendel, and so grendel got mad (lines 86-90). not only were the neighbors too noisy, but they sang songs that reminded grendel about his status as an outcast. he is a 'banished monster' who is 'cursed,' which means that god has rejected him. and all day and night, hrothgar's people sing about god (lines 90 - 114). one way to understand grendel is as an outcast who feels harassed by hrothgar and his people. no matter how grendel's motives are explained, he poses a threat to hrothgar and everyone else at heorot hall. they need a hero. in walks beowulf!