From which biblical character is Grendel descended? What is the significance of this ancestry?
Grendel is a descendant of Cain of Biblical fame, who committed the first murder by killing his brother Abel. As a result of this, God cursed him and marked him for life. By saying that Grendel is descended from Cain, the text immediately classifies him as a villain. Like Cain, Grendel kills undeserving people. Ask students what the effect of this ancestry might be on the rest of the story. (e.g. If Beowulf kills Grendel, it can be viewed as an act of revenge on Cain; if Grendel kills Beowulf, the story of Cain will be repeated over and over.)
In line 455, Beowulf says: “Fate...
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