Are they monsters or humans? A typical question that the reader encounters as he/she reads the Old English poem, Beowulf, an epic with unknown authorship. Grendel and his mother are introduced as evil monsters and descendents of Cain. However, their ogre bodies have strikingly human characteristics as well. These creatures often display human emotions and moral traits that are impossible for the reader to ignore. With such human-like qualities, how can these characters be depicted as pure evil monsters? Does their moral traits, physical appearances, and human emotions qualify them as part human, therefore, not entirely evil? These are all questions that each individual reader must answer for him/herself.
Grendel may be considered as one of the most interesting characters in Beowulf. He is a mix of a man and a monster. He has two legs, two arms, and one head, but is much larger and stronger than any man. He is also protected by a magic charm that guards him from man's weapons. .
Grendel's fury is based on the human feelings of resentment and jealousy. He is angry with mankind because he feels that God blesses "humans,"" but fails to bless him, for he is a descendent of Cain and deemed as an evil monster throughout eternity. Perhaps, the monster us unable to justify why he and his mother should endure such .
suffering on behalf of Cain's sins. This possibility also calls the reader's attention to question why any of us must pay for others' sins. Unfortunately, both questions are answered by mere speculations only.
Grendel seems to be enraged even more by the Heorot because of its light, the scop's music, and the joy of its men. "It harrowed him to hear the din of the loud banquet every day in the hall, the harp being struck and the clear song of a skilled poet telling with mastery of man's beginnings - (34, lines 87-98).
The song sang by the scop infuriated Grendel because of its tells of beauty and the light of God's creation.