Beowulf @ Ellis

Holly B.


Mixed Media Collage of Beowulf vs. Grendel: Analysis

            Many themes and concepts can be interpreted from the imagery in the epic poem Beowulf.    My project compares and contrasts two different scenes from the poem.  One of the scenes is of Beowulf in the magnificent Herot, and the other is of Grendel in his gloomy, underwater cave.  My artistic piece of these two scenes relates to the imagery seen and deciphered from the epic, Beowulf.
            The first scene (the left panel of the piece), shows Beowulf in Herot.  The building is made of wood, as in it is in the poem.  The wood shows that Herot is a strong, imposing, and sturdy tower: “It was quickly ready, the most beautiful of dwellings” (76-7); however at the same time, it is also vulnerable to fire and evil: “stood waiting for time to pass, for war to start, for flames to leap as high as the feud that would light them, and for Herot to burn” (82-5). Herot is well structured, reflecting the devotion and strength of the men who built it, but already knowing that dangers (Grendel) will encounter with the tower.  The white background/back wall and the ground of Herot show the good, noble, purity, and trustworthiness of Herot.  The ceiling is also a strong quality that shows the importance of the building.  The roof in my artistic project is ascending very far.  In the epic, Herot was built tall, a “That towering place, gabled andhuge” (83), so as to reach to the heavens to be closer to God. It “would hold all [Hrothgar’s] band and reach higher toward heaven than anything that had ever been known to the sons of men” (67-70).  The roof shows how connected to God and the Christian religion the people who occupied Herot where.  The doors in the piece are open, symbolizing Herot’s friendliness, kindness, and hospitality to all (for the most part!).  The silver and gold sparkles around the edges of the building, as well as the rug and the tapestry show how Herot is full of happiness and superiority.  The treasures, weapons, and armor (on the right side of the panel) relate and connect to the goods in the poem.  These spoils connect to the epic by symbolizing the good fortune of those who won the treasure, the caring of others because the owners share it, and were merciful to those from which they had taken: “That hall he’d divide the spoils … they’d earned in battle, but leaving the common pastures untouched, and taking no lives” (71-4). The food and drink behind Beowulf shows that the Danes who live in Herot like to have fun and celebrate their good fortune: “he commanded a banquet” (80).  Beowulf’s appearance and expression depicts him as he is in the epic: a strong, powerful warrior, determined to succeed. This imagery of Herot from the epic is depicted from my artistic piece.
            The second scene (the right panel of the piece), shows Grendel in his underwater cave. The fraying green/aqua/blue yarn and the green string at the top of the panel signify the waves of the gross water that Beowulf must swim through to get to the cave: “he sank through the waves” (1495).  The material is messy and vial like the water that can be imagined in the poem.  The outline of the top of the cave resembles the one in the epic.  It seals and protects the inhabitants inside from the wondering creatures from the other side so that: “no[t] anything in the lake [can] attack him through the building’s high-arched roof” (1514-5).  The darkly covered floor and rocks of the cave in my project resemble the muck that is depicted in the epic: “at last he saw the mud of the bottom” (1496).  The mud is gruesome and disgusting, like Grendel who lives there.  The darkly shaded background of the piece shows the gloominess and evil that inhabits the cave (Grendel and Grendel’s mother).  They were both banished due to their ancestors wicked: “He was spawned in that slime, conceived by a pair of those monsters born of Cain, murderous creatures banished by God, punished forever for the crime of Abel’s death” (104-8).  The red, orange and yellow outlining the cave walls symbolizes the fact that Grendel’s cave is really hell on earth, a pit of hellish flames, “a brilliant light burned all around him, the lake itself like a fiery flame” (1515 -7).  Grendel represents the disgusting and evil monster like he is in the epic poem, “a powerful monster, living in the darkness, growled in pain, impatient” (86-7) “that demon that fiend … who haunted the moors, the wild marshes, and made his home in a hell not hell but earth” (101-4). This imagery of Grendel’s cave from the epic is depicted from my artistic piece.
            The two scenes in my artistic piece are of Beowulf in Herot and Grendel in his cave with various details to each panel.  The connections between the poem and the piece include the ceilings, material of the structure, and relevance of objects/description of each building. This project reflects on the imagery from the epic poem, Beowulf.

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