Grendel A Philisophical Point Of View Grendel follows the philosophical evolution, from solipsism to nihilism, of a socially isolated creature, a monster. It is an examination of human supernatural curiosity and its many dangers, specifically the tendency toward blind cynicism. Grendel is a censure of the rapid growth of this cynicism in twentieth century society and the consequent widespread distrust of abstract ideals. In investigating his own nature, the monster in the story destroys himself. He realizes that the universe is determined, accidental, and so he loses faith in his own importance. With time, he becomes a beast, until eventually his soul has wholly left him. He does not die for love, or for passion, or for freedom.
His spirit dies instead simply, hopelessly, mired in boredom and anger, without courage or sadness. Grendel is dead long before his body fails him. He fades away, and the most important theme in this novel is that such self-destruction, though tempting, is not the only answer. Grendel’s first defense against a brute universe is solipsism: the belief that the self can know only itself and that it is the only existent thing. As the novel clearly demonstrates, solipsism is a weak defense.
However loudly a creature may declare its godhood, the universe continues to function independently. However a creature may deny the reality of outside factors, outside factors will continue to impose themselves upon his everyday existence. The main flaw in solipsism is that it contradicts every aspect of human experience. Grendel is justifiably unsatisfied and nervous under its tenuous cover. After his visit to the dragon, Grendel finds a more solid shield, nihilism: the belief that nothing has meaning; that life is a long series of accidents and is in itself an accident. As a philosophy, nihilism is complete.
It provides an answer to every metaphysical why?. Whatever the concern, a nihilist can conclusively state, There is no way to truly know, but it does not matter anyway. As a system of values for a living being, however, nihilism leaves much to be desired. It destroys the self, quickly and totally, with a single fall of a cynical whip. Grendel is utterly unhappy, because his life is empty and devoid of meaning.
Notice that he projects this meaningless onto the thanes. He ridicules their actions and their passions, rendering them absurd in the reader’s eyes. In truth, Grendel has a certain respect for human beings. He envies their capacity to dissolve into pure belief, and most of the hostility he exhibits toward them is actually derived from hostility toward himself. The human hero Beowulf represents an alternative to hopeless nihilism and cynicism, an alternative that Grendel never finds.
Beowulf is the embodiment of regeneration and purity. Though Grendel thinks he is insane, Beowulf is the only level mind in the entire novel. Beowulf completes the philosophical journey that shapes this novel by providing a perfect answer to Grendel’s puzzle. The meaning of life is in its living. The justification of truth is in truth.
The reason for beauty is beauty. It is too late for Grendel, however, as he has lost too much of himself. In the final battle he rejects Beowulf and all that the hero represents, and so Grendel’s death, like his life, is merely an accident. Book Reports.