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Whoever wrote Beowulf probably didn’t intend for the audience to feel sorry for a killer.

Yet I must admit I sympathize with Gendel’s mother, called a “monstrous hell-bride” and “troll-dam” among other names. Her murderous son is the worst possible enemy for the residents of Heorot Hall—a joyless being who cannot be appeased. So, the only way to stop him is to slay him. When Beowulf fatally wounds Grendel, we understand why Heorot Hall celebrates.

Yet we can also understand why a mother who is “grief-racked and ravenous, desperate for revenge” would make Heorot Hall pay a bloody price.

Grendel and his mother are ingenious literary creations, blending pagan and Christian beliefs. For more, see my post at English Historical Fiction Authors.

Source

Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney

Beowulf

From Jean Lang’s A Book of Myths, 1915 (public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

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