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Post Reply Grendel had a good 'mommy'?
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Posted 2/2/17 , edited 2/5/17
So, today in my gen. ed. literature class, I had the amusement of listening to a classmate defend two of the main monsters from Beowulf as being simple victims of bullying, more or less.

For instance, Grendel's mother was simply seeking righteous vengeance for her child. Wouldn't you be pissed if someone killed your kid?! Well, she was. After all, it wouldn't be right for you to kill someone's kid just because they beat up your kid on the playground, would it? Then why was it ok to kill Grendel? What's that? You say that eating dozens, if not hundreds of people is different from beating someone up? Too bad! Besides, Grendel was justified in his slaughter: it's like if your neighbor blared sirens all day and partied all night, no matter what you do- you would eventually snap and kill them. You think killing someone is a disproportionate response to having loud noises? Bullshit!
Besides, Grendel did them a favor by killing all those people: less people around means more food for the rest, and less strain on good old generous Hrothgar's treasury due to having too many people to share with. What?! You think that Hrothgar's generosity and numerous references in the text demonstrating the Danes' good fortune is reason to believe they didn't need people killed off to conserve resources? Well, fine! But the other points stand.

Seriously. No, she didn't literally say that our response was bullshit, but the basic course of the argument was:
1. Student A (The one defending Grendel): Grendel and 'Mommy' weren't so bad because...
2. Class: What? That makes no sense because...
3. Student A: Denial.
4. Class: Reiterates.
5. Student A: Deflection.
6. Repeat.

I'm also a little annoyed with people's speculation that the reason Beowulf wore armor to fight her, but not Grendel, and took Grendel's head, but not Mother's, was simply because she was a woman, and therefore unworthy. It seems to me that there are reasonable textual clues that could account for these without introducing this theory. But mainly the first few paragraphs are what upset me, I guess.
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Posted 2/2/17 , edited 2/5/17
Now, it's been some time since I have read Beowulf, but I'm pretty sure that everything your SMF said was wrong.
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Posted 2/2/17 , edited 2/5/17
I haven't read the Saga of Beowulf in years, but taking a Scandinavian saga composed somewhere between 1000 and 1300 years ago for a comparison on bulling is asinine at best. Tell your class mate it is a heroic epic, generally not a good place to be looking for great truth about life and certainly not from a modern perspective.
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Posted 2/2/17 , edited 2/5/17
They certainly aren't a good place to be injecting your own biases.
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Posted 2/2/17 , edited 2/5/17
That they are not.
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Posted 2/2/17 , edited 2/5/17
http://archive.org/stream/beowulf16328gut/16328-8.txt
https://books.google.com/books?id=kA9eAAAAcAAJ&pg=PR45&dq=beowulf+poem&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiI-KmouvPRAhVqrVQKHe3RAckQ6AEINDAD#v=onepage&q&f=false

Full text of Beowulf.

Just going off of the text's plot summary, Grendel was killing the Dane King's thanes out of jealousy for the wealth of the Danes, and no one can stand up to him. Beowulf arrives, and like a good warrior, falls asleep drunk at the table. You don't wear your weapons at the table. Grendel comes, kills one of the other sleeping warriors, waking Beowulf who proceeds to grapple with him, overpowering Grendel and ripping off his arm. Grendel retreats to his lair and dies of his wounds. The next night Mother, in a rage, kills the councilor of the king. Beowulf purifies himself, and goes forth to the swamp lair armed to get the job done (without Mother fleeing as Grendel did). Beowulf nearly dies, but finishes the job. He takes Grendel's head because Grendel is the one they know, not Mother, who they don't.

Everyone who died was a warrior and a leader. Without them to lead, the country would have fallen apart fighting over who would next lead the various lands of the thanes killed.
The Danes wanted to make Beowulf their next king because he proved himself strong enough to lead. He instead returned to Geatland, became king there, ruled for 50 years, and died to a fire breathing dragon that he slew.
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Posted 2/3/17 , edited 2/5/17

gornotck wrote:

http://archive.org/stream/beowulf16328gut/16328-8.txt
https://books.google.com/books?id=kA9eAAAAcAAJ&pg=PR45&dq=beowulf+poem&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiI-KmouvPRAhVqrVQKHe3RAckQ6AEINDAD#v=onepage&q&f=false

Full text of Beowulf.

Just going off of the text's plot summary, Grendel was killing the Dane King's thanes out of jealousy for the wealth of the Danes, and no one can stand up to him. Beowulf arrives, and like a good warrior, falls asleep drunk at the table. You don't wear your weapons at the table. Grendel comes, kills one of the other sleeping warriors, waking Beowulf who proceeds to grapple with him, overpowering Grendel and ripping off his arm. Grendel retreats to his lair and dies of his wounds. The next night Mother, in a rage, kills the councilor of the king. Beowulf purifies himself, and goes forth to the swamp lair armed to get the job done (without Mother fleeing as Grendel did). Beowulf nearly dies, but finishes the job. He takes Grendel's head because Grendel is the one they know, not Mother, who they don't.

Everyone who died was a warrior and a leader. Without them to lead, the country would have fallen apart fighting over who would next lead the various lands of the thanes killed.
The Danes wanted to make Beowulf their next king because he proved himself strong enough to lead. He instead returned to Geatland, became king there, ruled for 50 years, and died to a fire breathing dragon that he slew.


In the translation we are using, Grendel was indeed upset by hearing the celebrations in Heorot, the mead-hall. It also seems like he was particularly enraged listening to the scop tell the creation story, although it doesn't specifically say that's what set him off. I didn't read anything that made me think he just wanted their gold, though.

The point about those killed being important to the country's safety reminds me of another thing. She wanted to argue about Grendel being someone's child, but completely neglected that his victims were also someone's children. Unfortunately, I was rather dumbfounded by the whole conversation, and didn't think to point that out at the time.
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Posted 2/3/17 , edited 2/5/17

foraslan wrote:


In the translation we are using, Grendel was indeed upset by hearing the celebrations in Heorot, the mead-hall. It also seems like he was particularly enraged listening to the scop tell the creation story, although it doesn't specifically say that's what set him off. I didn't read anything that made me think he just wanted their gold, though.

The point about those killed being important to the country's safety reminds me of another thing. She wanted to argue about Grendel being someone's child, but completely neglected that his victims were also someone's children. Unfortunately, I was rather dumbfounded by the whole conversation, and didn't think to point that out at the time.


Well, just going off of the archive link, it suggests that he was 'envious of their joy'. Earlier in the same, it says something like 'good kings give gifts'. The great buildings were only possible through the king's fortune, and by extension the kingdom's fortune. You can basically dismiss the creation story portion. It's endemic of epic poems. They'll go off on a tangent explaining how the world was created, the entire lineage of every character (as they're introduced), and a thorough description of everyone they hold a grudge against.

The monstrous fetishistic student's argument is pretty dumbfounding, though not entirely unusual.

Suddenly I am reminded of the (female) fan of the Transformers property who believed that the Decepticons were the heroes.
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Posted 2/3/17 , edited 2/5/17
Well if you're going to be all modern then Grendel did not have a good mother. She did not succeed in raising her son to not kill other people's children. Then on top of that she's in a murderous rage because her own child got killed.
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Posted 2/3/17 , edited 2/5/17
If you skip the looney Robert Zemeckis animated movie with the deliberate-deconstruction Neil Gaiman script, there was a good movie version a few years earlier, "Beowulf & Grendel" that tried to put the story in "realistic" period detail, given the story.
Grendel, the "troll", is depicted as more of a classic Neanderthal throwback presumably upset about "invaders" on his territory, while the mother was a "sea witch", and classically depicted as one. Neither one is clearly assumed to be 100% human.

If the fetishist student is still picturing sexy Angelina Jolie with the dragon tail, he'd best put his monster-musume issues aside for classic literature.
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Posted 2/3/17 , edited 2/5/17
It's supposedly a 'she', so maybe the demon form of Sebastian?

It should be said that, by the standards of the time, Mother was probably a good 'mommy', though she failed to kill Beowulf. Grendel came home and died on the carpet, and so she went out and complained by killing people some more.
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Posted 2/5/17 , edited 2/5/17

Ejanss wrote:

If you skip the looney Robert Zemeckis animated movie with the deliberate-deconstruction Neil Gaiman script, there was a good movie version a few years earlier, "Beowulf & Grendel" that tried to put the story in "realistic" period detail, given the story.
Grendel, the "troll", is depicted as more of a classic Neanderthal throwback presumably upset about "invaders" on his territory, while the mother was a "sea witch", and classically depicted as one. Neither one is clearly assumed to be 100% human.

If the fetishist student is still picturing sexy Angelina Jolie with the dragon tail, he'd best put his monster-musume issues aside for classic literature.


To the best of my knowledge, they do not literally have a monster fetish. That comment was an attempt at humor on my part, but it was taken too seriously and fell flat. Sorry for the misunderstanding, I'm going back to edit it now.
Posted 2/5/17 , edited 2/5/17
I understand that desiring revenge for her son's death is, more or less, a "good mommy trait." I can agree that the average monster can be expected to eventually go on a rampage over human intrusion; however, those classmates of yours certainly pulled a load out of their asses in their quest to paint the duo as tragic heroes, or some shit. Grendel's attack upon Beowulf and his men was premeditated, and the foolish Grendel had bitten off more than he can chew. The brat knew he screwed up when he saw Beowulf. He recognized the warrior, demonstrating that he was more than sentient enough to know what he was doing. Grendel's own reckless stupidity had caused his mother's death. Grendel is the mythological equivalent of a punk thinking he's hot shit, picking a fight with a wizened gangster, and consequently getting his ass curb-stomped. Too bad he went and dragged his own mother into it and she died trying to avenge her coward of a son, but "shit happens."
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Posted 2/5/17
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Posted 2/5/17 , edited 2/5/17
C'mon it's all just 'armless fun
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