The Grendel Projects

The ultimate goal here is to produce a Powerpoint display or web page which explores your area as it relates to the novel Grendel. Use The Grendel Index to pinpoint relevant passages. Take good notes and always identify your sources.

The Grendel Index | Grendelinks

Astrology/The Zodiac
Read Stromme
chart astrological allusions per chapter
explore relevance of these symbols for each chapter

The Novel as Prose Poem
Investigate "the prose poem"
Read some contemporary prose poetry.
How well or poorly does the novel meet the description of a prose poem?
What might be some prose poem characteristics of the novel?
Compare the verse of the original Beowulf poem to Gardner's prose. What can one do that the other can't? How does Gardner allude to or pay homage to the verse of the original tale?

Compile an index of metaphors - sort into categories
What is Metaphor? What is it good for? What do Grendel's metaphors reveal about him? About his sense of the world?

Read Stromme
Choose a particular philospher (Nietzsche, Whitehead, existentialists, etc.) How do the philosopher's ideas appear in the novel? Which character seems to support them?
Discuss Grendel as a philosophical novel. What are its major philosophical issues? What is JG saying about human life through this book?

John Gardner
For starters, read "John Gardner" at Wikipedia, and other Gardner interviews and letters.
What useful and relevant info can you find about JG's life, attitude, intentions about the novel?

Chart appearances of women in the novel.
How are women portrayed? How does The Feminine exert an influence in the novel?
What was the role of women in Anglo-Saxon culture? Does the novel reflect this in any way?

Anglo-Saxon Culture
Explore Anglo-Saxon culture
Chart and explain key elements as used or distorted by Gardner

What is a dragon? (Mythologically? Culturally? Psychologically?) How well or poorly does the Grendel Dragon measure up to the traditional descriptions? What other dragons exist in 20th century pop culture? Why does JG put those particular thoughts in the Dragon's mouth? Where/how does the dragon appear in the history of art?

Address question: What is a monster? How is Grendel monstrous? What other monsters are present in the novel? See "An Exploration of Modern Monsters." Read Grendel/Frankenstein articles.

Chart Grendel's direct references to language
Question: What is language? What does Grendel think about it?

Chart Grendel's understanding of other animals.
What is the human relation to other animals? How are animals used as symbols in Anglo-Saxon culture? in the novel? (e.g. why is the meadhall called Hart?)

Chart Grendel's comments about humans
What patterns/overall judgements appear?
How do humans appear to relate to each other?
What does the Dragon believe about humans? The Shaper?

See Theology Links.
Is Christianity any more or less apparent in the novel Grendel than it is in the Beowulf epic?
What are Grendel's thoughts about God or gods throughout the novel? Does he ever change his mind?

Distinguish among the epic, tragic, romantic, and anti-hero. Which characters of the novel come closest to each of the types? Is any kind of heroism possible within this novel? Why is Grendel so set upon destroying Unferth's heroics?

JG's/Grendel's Diction
Chart and define unusual, difficult, significant terms from each chapter
What characterizes Grendel's narrative voice? Does he sound like a teacher, an angry child, a lover, a wise old man, an objective observer, something else?
Why do you think JG chose to let Grendel speak in this fashion?

The Grendel Index | Grendelinks