The Perfect Villain/Hero: Grendel's Perspective in Beowulf College
“Once upon a time, someone decided that we were the losers. But there are two sides to every story. And our side has not been told!” says Prince Charming to a room full of “villains” who are left to rot after their adversaries were given “happily ever after” (Shrek the Third). They feel wronged, and justifiably so. Why are they labeled the “bad guys?” How is the hero of a story determined? Is he the victim of fate, against whom all odds are set? The one who fights for their glory and the honor of their ancestors, no matter what the cost? Or, as Norse mythology would say, the one who fights the hardest, but still comes up short (Hamilton 443)? What about the villain? After all, there must be someone for the hero to fight against, an adversary. But how can one tell the difference? In Beowulf, it is almost universally accepted that Beowulf is the hero meant to defeat the villain, Grendel. But a close look at the story reveals the rarely told tale of Grendel, who despite dishonor and pain still fights to right the wrongs done to him and his ancestors. He follows a traditional Norse hero pattern, fighting to the last of his strength, but ultimately coming up short. When Beowulf is explored from Grendel’s point of view, it becomes...
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