.. comes to grief, it will be because [the powerful] have become alarmed at [their] own brutality”(Gardner 117).
Then, as the rich descend, the poor will rise to power in order to complete the revolution. “The total ruin of institutions and [heroism] is [in itself] an act of creation”(Gardner 118). To break the circle would cause “evolution,” forward progress, that would enhance the natural progress of mankind. But, according to Gardner, this will never happen because the powerful enjoy their present state of grace; and when they helpless rise up, they are immediately repressed in a “cry [of] common good”(Gardner 119).
Though not as overt as Grendel, the concept of “revolution” is also displayed in Frankenstein. Frankenstein’s society ostracizes its undesirables by chasing them to the darkest corners of the world in much the same way that Grendel’s society does. Frankenstein is driven from his birthplace by his creator only to find that he must hide in shadowed allies to avoid social persecution. In the theme of revolution, the rich control what is acceptable, and to them, Frankenstein definitely does not fit the mold. Next, Frankenstein seeks asylum in the barn of a small farmer. The place where he finds refuge is a cold, dark corner symbolic of how society forces the non-elite from their spheres to places where they cannot be seen, nor heard, and therefore do not exist.After Frankenstein saves the starving family by harvesting their crops, they repay him by running him off their land. This incident repeats itself throughout Frankenstein’s journeys.
Finally, Frankenstein is forced into the cold wasteland of the Arctic circle. In this uninhabitable place there is no one to persecute him. Yet the doctor maliciously continues to follow Frankenstein, hoping to completely destroy his creation. When Dr.Frankenstein dies, his monster is the first to come to lay his body to rest and follow him into the afterlife. Frankenstein fits the idea of a true hero, rather than the romantic view of heroism shared by society. He is chivalrous, loyal, and true to himself.
Frankenstein shows his chivalry by helping a family in need and still accepting their hatred of him. He acts to help others although he receives nothing in return. Frankenstein holds absolute loyalty to his creator.Dr. Frankenstein shuns his creation, Frankenstein, and devotes his life to killing the monster, yet Frankenstein is the first to show respect to his fallen master after his death. Frankenstein builds a funeral pyre to honor his master and creator who despised him during his life. Frankenstein’s loyalty extends as far as the ritual suicide he commits while cremating the body of his creator.
Most importantly, Frankenstein is true to himself. Society wishes that he would cease to exist, so their opinion is irrelevant to him.His creator shuns him, but Frankenstein learns to cope with his own emotions in order to support himself. Frankenstein relies solely on what he believes in, not in what society believes to be important.
His actions are based upon his own assessment of situations, rather than what is socially acceptable. Grendel is also isolated from society, and his actions also classify him as a true hero. Like Frankenstein, Grendel has little outside influence and has to rely on his own emotions to make decisions. Grendel possesses bravery, yet he does not have the foolish pride of Beowulf.
“The first virtue [of heroism] is bravery, but even more, it is blind courage”(Nicholson 47).Grendel is the epitome of “blind courage.” For example, when the bull attacks Grendel, he simply calculates the bull’s movements and fearlessly moves out of the way. Even when the bull rips through his leg, Grendel is not afraid. Grendel repeatedly charges into the meadhall and destroys its best warriors without a second thought. Grendel even has the courage to taunt Hrothgar’s bravest thanes by throwing apples at them. Grendel “breaks up their wooden gods like kindling and topples their gods of stone”(Gardner 128). It is this type of “blind courage” that Grendel believes saves his life in battle.
“Fate will often spare a man if his courage holds”(Gardner 162). Beowulf, on the other hand, is foolish in his approach to battle. He goes to fight an immortal opponent, the dragon, and is killed because of his pride. “His very valor, wisdom, and magnanimity, expended unstindtly, lead only to a hero’s grave in a land soon to be conquered”(Brodeur 105). Grendel’s “blind courage” is far superior to the “blind stupidity” of Beowulf.
Just as society’s heroes fight foolishly, their opinions are made by prejudice and reflect the ignorance of humankind. Both monsters are seen as the minions of evil, and even of Satan himself. “Grendel is placed in a Biblical lineage of evil reaching back to the first murder”(Hamilton 105). Even the author of the poem alludes to “the descent of the race of Grendel from Cain”(Donaldson 1688). Frankenstein is proposed to be of “accursed origin”(Milton 130).
However, neither of the two can be properly defined as Satanic, especially on the information known to the rest of society.Continuing, this belief causes extended prejudice of the monsters even in our society today. Through the predetermined opinions of society, Grendel is seen as an evil come to destroy all of mankind. Grendel is a victim of society, he was not born inherently evil. “Woe to him who is compelled, through cruel persecution, to thrust his soul into the embrace of fire, to hope for no solace”(Kennedy 9). Society unduly restrains Grendel to heinous stereotypes that he does not fit. For example, another character more closely fits the description of Cain than Grendel.”The only one of the personages of the poem who is clearly said to be destined to suffer in hell is Unferth, who, in his responsibility for the death of his brothers, has committed the sin of Cain”(Brodeur 218).
Clearly, it is not Grendel that should be condemned. He only tries to assimilate into society, but after being continually rejected he turns to violence in response to society’s hatred of him. Similar to Grendel, Frankenstein is also pictured as satanic. Brooks concurs in saying that society “views [Frankenstein] to be a unique creation, like Adam ‘united by no link to any other being in existence'(Milton 129), yet by his condition more resembling Satan”(210).
“There are times when he scarcely seems to be of this earth”(Venables 59).Also like Grendel, Frankenstein was not born evil, he was forced into his way of life by the society that rejected him. After this rejection, Frankenstein “like the arch-fiend, bore a hell within him”(Shelley 136). To each man his own god, and to each man his own devil as well. Frankenstein, “like Coleridge’s wedding guest, leaves ‘a sadder and wiser man'”(Scott 201). He now better understands his existence and how society wrongfully rejects it. Frankenstein simply wants society to have the “knowledge that might enable [him] to make them overlook the deformity of [his] figure”(Shelley 114). “Man how ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom!”(Shelley 201).
Grendel’s and Frankenstein’s superiority to humankind is made obvious by their ability to live in a society that has ostracized them, the monsters’ true heroism in place of humankind’s romantic view, and the ignorance on which society’s opinion of the monsters is based.”The monsters not only embody our fears of the way certain entities can artificially pervert nature in ourselves and our society, they also speak to us knowledgeably of nature and in a human voice, to tell us we need not be afraid [of them]”(Scott 201).