Beowulf @ Ellis

Lauren M.

Beowulf Analysis

           I created an artistic piece to reflect some of the many important lessons are found in the poem Beowulf. For my artistic presentation of the epic Beowulf, I built a model of Grendel and Beowulf, two characters who are important to the story line of the epic poem. They are likewise the main focus of my artistic representation. There is a lot of symbolism seen in this portrayal.
            When look at my project something noticed almost immediately is the size difference between Grendel and Beowulf. Grendel is approximately six feet tall and Beowulf is about three inches tall.  In my artistic piece I created this height difference for a reason. From Beowulf’s point of view this symbolizes that no challenge is too large and anything can be overcome with belief in one’s self and help from God. From Grendel’s point of view, no challenge should be underestimated. Grendel is powerful and large; Beowulf is small and strong. The difference that sets the two apart is that, unlike Grendel, Beowulf has the power of God or fate on his side. By having Beowulf’s standing on a wall, with white dust and blue marks, symbolizing that God or fate was helping him. The wall is giving him a boost of height as if God is giving him an advantage to fight Grendel. Beowulf is represented to be about the size of the other Anglo-Saxon warriors. In the epic poem, one of the warriors says,   “Grendel’s terrible Anger hung over our heads too long, dropping down misery” (14.925). I this warrior is saying that Grendel is taller and keep drop terror on them. This is why I made Grendel so tall in comparison to Beowulf.
           A second difference between the two sculptures is in the materials used for the two characters. Beowulf is an action figure in the form of a male human being. Grendel is a form made out of pipes plus a head. The head is made of steel and touch lights. Grendel is considered to be evil.  I thought of evil as being in the mind. In my artistic version of Grendel, I used steel for the head because of the way steel reacts with light. Steel is a material that lets no light through but instead reflects light. The touch lights symbolize God. I thought the combination of steel and light is good to use together to symbolize Grendel because Grendel is non-receptive to all ideas of God and light, and instead bounces them back away from him and his lair and back to the radiating source. “He moved quickly through the cloudy night, up from his swampland” (11.714-715). This proves that he lives in a dark place and only comes out when there is a lack of sun or light. That is why I chose to use steel for the secondary material on the head. The head was a very important because I saw the head as the place where decisions are made so in a monster the head had to show the bad decisions that were made.
            My representation of Grendel I formed is in a human shape. This shows that every form of being has some evil. Grendel is immoral in many ways though out the poem. Grendel terrorizes Herot and innocent animals. In the book Grendel by John Gardner, Grendel victimizes two different animals just for coming near his dwelling. The Ram, and the Goat, did nothing wrong, except they went near Grendel’s house. ““I watch a great horned goat ascent to the rocks toward my mere. I have half a mind to admire his bottomless stupidity. ‘Hey goat!’ I yell down. ‘There is nothing here. Go back’. He lifts his head, considers me, and then lowers it again to keep an eye on crevasses it seams, icy screen, slick rocky ledges – doggedly continuing. I tip up a bolder and let it fall thundering towards him. His ears flap up in alarm, he stiffens, looks around in haste, and jumps. The boulder bounds past him. He watches it fall, then lowering he head again, he continues.  It is the business of goats to climb. ‘Ah, Goat, goat!’ I say as if deeply disappointed in him. ‘Use your reason! There is nothing here!’ He keeps coming. I am amused by his stupidity. The mere belongs to me and the fire snakes.  What if everybody should decide the place is public? ‘Go back down, goat!’ I yell at him, he keeps climbing and climbing, mindless, mechanical, because it’s the goats business to climb. ‘Not here,’ I yell. ‘If climbing is your duty to the gods, go climb the meadhall.’ He keeps on climbing. I run back from the edge to a dead tree, throw myself ageist it and break it off and drag it back to the cliff wall. ‘You’ve had fair warning,’ I yell at him. I’m enraged now. The words come echoing back to me. I lay the tree sideways, wait for the goat to the to be in better range, and then shove. It drops with a crash and rolls crookedly toward him. He darts left, reverses him self and bounds to the right, and a limb catches him. He bleats, falling, flopping over with a jerk to quick for the eye, bleats again, scrambling, sliding toward the ledge side. The tree, slowly rolling, drops out of site. His sharp front hooves dig in as he jerks on to his feet, but before his balance is sure my stone hits him and falls again. I leap down to make certain he goes over this time. He finds his feet the same instant that my second stone hits. It splits his skull, and blood sprays past his dangling brains.”P139-140.
            This passage shows how Grendel is less receptive to others, and could be evil. But on the other hand Beowulf could be considered evil in the way he treats Grendel when he is killing him. Instead of just killing Grendel, Beowulf instead rips off Grendel’s arm mortally wounding him. In the novel by John Gardner, Grendel has his arm ripped off and then committed suicide due to the pain. In both sources of reference Grendel is in excruciating pain. Beowulf could be considered wicked for not just killing Grendel and putting him out of his misery. This shows that it is not that you are born evil and that every one has evil in them. The choices that you make determine whether you either good or evil.  Grendel chooses to be more evil than good. Beowulf used more of his good side, but there is some evil in everyone. 
            I think that my artistic representation of Beowulf and Grendel shows many and all of these symbols. A lot of thought, time, and effort went in to creating this representation of the epic poem Beowulf.


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