Beware of Grievous Grendel! We have all heard of the great epic poem Beowulf; one of the first major works in English literature. Grendel is a monster in this epic poem, in which he terrorizes people. He is a huge, powerful descendant of the biblical Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, who killed his brother Abel out of jealousy. In the same way as Cane, Grendel was cursed and condemned by the mighty Creator. Grendel is envious, resentful and angry toward mankind. He may attack at any time, for no reason at all and there is no way to reach an agreement with him to make him stop what he is doing. He exists to devastate and to murder human beings.
Grendel may be a part of fiction in this poem, but he also exists in real life. In modern life we can find the character of Grendel in natural disasters and human beings. A citation from the poem, translated by Kevin Crossley-Holland, would give a good picture of what Grendel caused to human kind; think of a beautiful place, a mead-hall, where people came together every night to eat, drink, sing and feast. People were living in harmony, until one night Grendel turned up and started the terror upon Hrothgar’s people, which would continue for the next twelve years: Then, under cover of night, Grendel came o Hrothgar’s lofty hall to see how the Ring-Danes were disposed after drinking ale all evening; and he found there a band of brave warriors, well-feasted, fast asleep, dead to worldly sorrow, man’s sad destiny. At once that hellish monster, grim and greedy, brutally cruel, started forward and seized thirty thanes even as they slept; and then, gloating over his plunder, he hurried from the hall, made for his lair with all those slain warriors. Grendel turns up out of nowhere, kills, murders people, and then disappears. In modern life we deal with natural disasters in a similar way.
There are earthquakes, tornados, volcanic eruptions and floods, which cause loss of life and property damage. A natural disaster comes without giving any notice, shatters homes, takes lives and leaves a population helpless with the ruins of its attack. People in modern civilization experience the same feelings as Hrothgar’s people, who were attacked for years and years; living in fear of horror, never knowing when to expect disaster to strike. Besides natural disasters, human beings can be Grendels themselves. Before going further into this topic, I would like to mention Freud’s Ego theory.
According to Freud, we are born with our Id. The id is an important part of our personality because as newborns, it allows us to get our basic needs met. Freud believed that the id is based on our pleasure principle. In other words, the id wants whatever feels good at the time, with no consideration for the reality of the situation. When a child needs to be changed, the id cries; when the child is hungry, the id cries again. The id does not care about reality, or about the needs of anyone else; when the id wants something, nothing else is important.
Within the next three years, as the child interacts more and more with the world, the second part of the personality begins to develop. Freud called this part the Ego. The ego is based on the reality principle. The ego understands that people have needs and desires and that something being impulsive or selfish can hurt us in the long run. It is the ego’s job to meet the needs of the id, while taking into consideration the reality of the situation. Around the age of five the Superego develops.
The superego is the moral part of us, which can sort right from wrong, and develops due to the moral and ethical discipline taught by our parents. In a healthy person, according to Freud, the ego is the strongest so that it can satisfy the needs of the id, not upset the superego, and still take into consideration the reality of every situation. If the id gets too strong, impulses and self gratification take over the person’s life. If the superego becomes too strong, the person would be driven by rigid morals, would be judgemental and unbending in his or her interactions with the world.
So when the ego is incapable of maintaining control of the id and superego, some kind of abnormality arises; here we meet the terrorists and murderers in modern life who we can compare to Beowulf’s Grendel. We never know when they will show themselves and their cruel intentions. But when they do appear in our lives, we suffer pain, become afraid and sad because of their actions. We know they are there and can’t stop them from doing harm to people. As a conclusion we can say Grendel is not fiction and he is not in the past.
Grendel is still among us, keeping us afraid of what might come to harm us or our loved ones. When the next natural disaster will arise is a surprise and we’ll never know when an unhealthy person or group will decide to attack us. So be aware of grievous Grendel and be ready to suffer, because you might be next in line! Leyla Doner Dugdu – 285533 – evening References: http://psychology. about. com/od/eindex/g/def_egostrength. htm http://www. betterlivingthroughbeowulf. com/? p=328 Beowulf, translation by Crossley-Holland, K.