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Essay: Grendel: Communication & Language Manipulating Character Development

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  • Published: 19 February 2023*
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  • Words: 930 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)
  • Tags: Beowulf essays

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Communication and the use of language infatuate Grendel. It is an aspect that separates him from the world. However, through a deeper understanding of it, language brings him closer to his understanding the Danes and the world. Communication helps him get closer to the town, yet it also lays a boundary between his mother and his own world as a creature. On the account that Grendel is not able to communicate with those around him he learns everything through active listening. In the novel Grendel, The Shaper gradually becomes Grendel’s influence with his poetry and storytelling techniques. The use of poetry and diction formulated in The Shaper’s stories affects and develops Grendel's character through the search for understanding, the longing for the stories and the recognition of the power of language.

Grendel’s character evolves throughout the novel as his development in his use of language reflects on his character. His character builds up as he learns from his surroundings. The only individuals Grendel is able to understand are The Shaper, The Dragon, and the Danes. There is a language barrier between him and his mother. Communication build relationships and connections among people, since there is a lack of connection between Grendel and his mother, Grendel seeks elsewhere to fulfill that belonging. The journey in the search for answers allows Grendel to open up many different opinions to further develop his character. Grendel’s encounter with The Shaper commences the shift of Grendel’s worldviews. The Shaper only provides the stories to please Hrothgar, once the stories are shared they become part of history. Grendel becomes reliant on The Shaper since he is one of his on reliable sources to understand what happens around. Through this reliability, Grendel continually goes back to for more information more frequently.

The Shaper’s stories become infectious, it manipulates individuals own thought to believe his deceitful messages. “His manner of speaking was infecting me, making me pompous… my eternal posture, always transforming the world with words” (pg.49). This demonstrates how the way someone phrases their sentences or directs themselves can have an effect on whoever is listening. At this point, we know that Grendel is agitated from false stories yet intrigued the stories infect him. Grendel is not able to get enough from The Shaper’s poetry. He attempts to refrain himself from listening, however, it is something that he has become dependent to as he listens from the trees. “Two nights later I went back. I was addicted.” (p.54). The Shaper’s stories start to become Grendel’s fulfillment, he needs to listen and in some instances, he goes back twice a night to listen to different halls. They are taking over his perception.Through The Shaper’s powerful poetic devices he is able to grasp the attention of all and brings them to believe that his stories are the truth.

The Shaper uses language to mold and transform stories. He brings to life each scenario by looking at it from a different perspective. He slightly alters the truth to say what people want to hear instead of stating the harsh reality. “‘He reshapes the world,’ I whispered, belligerent. ‘So his name implies. He stares strange-eye at the mindless world and turns dry stick to gold” (pg.49). The contrast between the two sticks is used to indicate how meaning can be added to any situation. The Shaper adds value to any story just as he did with the sticks. By providing meaning to every story, The Shaper creates a purpose for everything. As an example, he glorifies the Danes war stories to bring unity among them. His use of language lures people into his stories. It was his job, to bring people, confidence, bravery, success. He did it all through the use of language. He simply changes their perspective of the events and uses the panegyric version to brings hope.

As Grendel continually hears and see the world through The Shaper’s eyes,  he is able to the reason behind The Shaper’s language and poetry. Grendel hopes that everyone is able to understand the stories in the same way. “Poor Grendel had an accident, so may you all.”(pg.174). During Grendel’s final moments he refers to his encounter with Beowulf to be an accident. This accident is the moment of realization that Grendel recognizes he has become an adaptation of The Shaper. “Grendel himself becomes the Shaper.”(interview). As Grendel has listened to more and more of The Shaper he formulates his own tone, opinion, and structure. At the end of the novel, it seems to be that he has completely adapted his ways of thinking. When he is able to finally see the world as he does at his last moments, he wishes that everyone gets to see it as well. An accident, he never wanted to be lured into what the Shaper has said because he knew it wasn’t the truth. However he has had an accident, he accidentally fell for it and hopes for everyone to fall for it too.

As a result of Grendel’s journey to understand language, Grendel’s character was developed through the inspiration of The Shaper. The Shaper became Grendel’s role model throughout the novel considering that his stories manipulated Grendel’s language and diction. Grendel was able to understand the world as The Shaper expressed it and he became dependent on his stories. The stories shaped who he was and through that Grendel was able to recognize the power and manipulation of language had to the world.

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