The Significance of Heroes in Society

Length: 3 Pages 641 Words

Too often society defines heroes as those who possess extraordinary super powers or those who act as martyrs. Society sees these people as heroes and underestimates the heroism that lies within traditional people with conventional lives. In Grendel, by John Gardner, Grendel’s understanding of humanity’s cruelty broadens the definition of heroism in modern and historical culture. Although Grendel plays the role of a monster in the story, he is more essential to the kingdom than any hero because he provides them with the reality that death is inescapable. Traditional heroism involves admirable traits, yet society overlooks the necessities those unconventional heroes provide through exemplifying integrity, resisting convention, and outstanding but understated achievement. In Grendel, a brave warrior speaks of heroism and states, “Except in the life of a hero, the whole world’s meaningless” (89). Yet in Grendel, the antagonist actua Continue...


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In conclusion, just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is heroism. Contrastingly, Kenneth Beck reveals through illness that the value of life is immeasurable. Providing them with the knowledge that one day their lives will end, Grendel gives quality and meaning to their lives, disproving Unferth's statement. His experience provides a lesson that cannot be taught in a classroom or read in a book. Not only can heroes remain alive; moreover their life can be the essence of what makes them heroic. He never gave up hope for rescue, and now faces adversity with defiance. Despite Grendel's fear that Beowulf will eventually end his life, Grendel respects Beowulf for reminding him that there is value in humanity. Distraught at the bloodshed and cruelty of society, Grendel loses sight of the goodness that humans are capable of and attacks the kingdom out of despair, rage, and unbelief. lly provides more quality to life than the protagonist does. So Beowulf may be a hero because he saves lives, but Grendel is a hero because he gives meaning to life. Considering the circumstances of Grendel's life, Grendel shows integrity simply by having a splinter of hope in humanity and it's future. As the kingdom watches Beowulf and Grendel's legacy, it becomes apparent that Grendel is heroic in an alternate context. Grendel, an isolated and cynical bearish beast, watches a kingdom blossom with seeds of violence and repression. He is a hero because he reveals the worth of life and how easily life gets taken for granted.

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