the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good friend?"
"It is bitter-bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter
And because it is my heart."
-Stephen Crane
This reflects how both Grendel and Frankenstein must have felt during
their lonely lives. "Seeking friends, the fiends found enemies; seeking
hope, they found hate"(Neilson back page).

The monsters simply want to
live as the rest of us live. But, in our prejudice of their kind, we
banish them from our elite society. Who gave society the right to judge
who is acceptable and who is not? A better question might be, who is
going to stop them? The answer, no one. Therefore, society continues to
alienate the undesirables of our community. Some of the greatest minds
of all time have been socially unacceptable.

Albert Einstein lived alone
and rarely wore the same color socks. Van Gogh found comfort only in
his art, and the woman who consistently denied his passion. Edgar Allen
Poe was "different" to say the least. Just like these great men,
Grendel and Frankenstein do not conform to the societal model.

like these men, Grendel and Frankenstein are uniquely superior to the
rest of
mankind. Their superiority is seen through their guile to live in a
society that ostracizes their kind, their true heroism in place of
society's romantic view, and the ignorance on which society's opinion of
them is formed.
Grendel, though he needs to kill to do so, functions very well in his
own sphere. Grendel survives in a hostile climate where he is hated and
feared by all. He lives in a cave protected by firesnakes so as to
physically, as well as spiritually, separate himself from the society
that detests, yet admires, him. Grendel is "the brute existent by which
humankind learns to define itself"(Gardner 73).

Hrothgar's thanes
continually try to extinguish Grendel's infernal rage, while he simply
wishes to live in harmony with them.
Like Grendel, Frankenstein also learns to live in a society that
despises his kind. Frankenstein also must kill, but this is only in
response to the people's abhorrence of him. Ironically, the very doctor
who bore him now searches the globe seeking Frankenstein's destruction.

Even the ever-loving paternal figure now turns away from this outcast
from society. Frankenstein journeys to the far reaches of the world to
escape from the societal ills that cause society to hate him. He
ventures to the harshest, most desolate, most uninhabitable place known
to man, the north pole. He lives in isolation, in the cold acceptance
of the icy glaciers. Still, Dr.

Frankenstein follows, pushing his
creation to the edge of the world, hoping he would fall off, never to be
seen or heard from again. Frankenstein flees from his father until the
Doctor's death, where
Frankenstein joins his father in the perpetual, silent acceptance of
Frankenstein never makes an attempt to become one with society, yet he
is finally accepted by the captain to whom he justifies his existence.
Frankenstein tracks Dr. Frankenstein as to better explain to himself the
nature of own being by understanding the life of his creator.
"Unstoppable, Frankenstein travels to the ends of the earth to destroy
his creator, by destroying everyone Dr.

Frankenstein loved" (Shelley
afterword). As the captain listens to Frankenstein's story, he begins
to understand his plight. He accepts Frankenstein as a reluctant, yet
devoted, servant to his master. Granted that Frankenstein does not
"belong," he is accepted with admiration by the captain. The respect
that Frankenstein has longed for is finally given to him as he announces
his suicide in the name of his father, the late Dr.

Frankenstein.On the other hand, Grendel makes numerous attempts to assimilate into
society, but he is repeatedly turned back. Early in his life, Grendel
dreams of associating with Hrothgar's great warriors. Nightly, Grendel
goes down to the meadhall to listen to Hrothgar's stories and the
thanes' heroism, but most of all, he comes to hear the Shaper.

Shaper's stories are Grendel's only education as they enlighten him to
the history of the society that he yearns to join. "The Shaper
changed the world, had torn up its past by its thick gnarled roots and
had transmuted it, and they, who knew the truth, remembered it his way-
and so did Grendel"(Gardner 43). Upon
Grendel's first meeting with Hrothgar, the great hero tries to kill him
by chopping him out of a tree. "The king (Hrothgar) snatches an ax from
the man beside him and, without any warning, he hurls it at
Grendel"(Gardner 27). After being attacked by those he so admires, he
turns against them to wreak havoc on their civilization.The more that society alienates Grendel and Frankenstein, the more they
come to realize the invalidity of "social heroism.

" As Grendel's
oppressors see it, heroism consists of the protection of one's name, the
greater glory of their line, and most of all, their armor collection.
"Beowulf, so movingly compounded with self-vindication, looks to care
for his own name and honour"(Morgan xxxi-xxxii). According to
Frankenstein's time, a hero is someone who protects their lady's name,
earns greater glory for themselves and their country, and has a large
collection of prestigious degrees to hang on their walls. Social
heroism is not a single event, it is properly defined as a

" It is an on-going, ever-changing series of "heroic"
events. This "revolution is not the substitution of immoral for moral,
or of illegitimate violence for legitimate violence; it is simply the
pitting of power against power, hero against hero, where the issue is
freedom for the winners and enslavement of the rest"(Gardner 119). This
revolution is built on intimidation by the powerful of society to
oppress the undesirables. "Murder and mayhem are the life and soul of
the revolution"(Gardner 118).
This revolution is most evident in John Gardner's Grendel.

Hrothgar's meadhall, his thanes are discussing the heroic revolution
with the Shaper. According to the Shaper, the kingdom, those in power,
pretends to be protecting the values of all people. Supposedly, the
revolution causes the kingdom to
save the values of the community-regulate compromise-improve the
quality of the commonwealth. In other words,protect the power of the
people in power and repress the restIt rewards people who fit the
System best.

The King'simmediate thanes, the thanes' top servants, and
so on till you come to the people that don't fit in at all. No
problem. Drivethem to the darkest corners of the kingdom, starve
them,arrest and execute a few, or put them out to war. That's how it
works. (Gardner 118)
In Grendel's time, violence is the common denominator in all
righteousness. "The incitement to violence depends upon total
transvaluation of the ordinary values.

By a single stroke, the most
criminal acts may be converted to heroic and meritorious deeds"(Gardner
117). Certainly the only difference between appalling acts of violence
and heroic deeds is the matter of who commits them. What might be
appropriate for a king would be unheard of by a peasant. This is
obviously a social commentary that fits today as well, if not better,
than it did then. The rich and powerful still succeed in oppressing the
poor and helpless in every culture around the world.

"If the Revolution
ever comes to grief, it will be because the powerful have become
alarmed at their own brutality"(Gardner 117). Then, as the rich
descend, the poor will rise
to power in order to complete the revolution. "The total ruin of
institutions and heroism is in itself an act of creation"(Gardner
118). To break the circle would cause "evolution," forward progress,
that would enhance the natural progress of mankind. But, according to
Gardner, this will never happen because the powerful enjoy their present
state of grace; and when they helpless rise up, they are immediately
repressed in a "cry of common good"(Gardner 119).

Though not as overt as Grendel, the concept of "revolution" is also
displayed in Frankenstein. Frankenstein's society ostracizes its
undesirables by chasing them to the darkest corners of the world in much
the same way that Grendel's society does. Frankenstein is driven from
his birthplace by his creator only to find that he must hide in shadowed
allies to avoid social persecution. In the theme of revolution, the
rich control what is acceptable, and to them, Frankenstein definitely
does not fit the mold. Next, Frankenstein seeks asylum in the barn of a
small farmer.

The place where he finds refuge is a cold, dark corner
symbolic of how society forces the non-elite from their spheres to
places where they cannot be seen, nor heard, and therefore do not
exist. After Frankenstein saves the starving family by harvesting their
crops, they repay him by running him off their land. This incident
repeats itself throughout Frankenstein's journeys. Finally,
Frankenstein is forced into the cold wasteland of the Arctic circle. In
this uninhabitable place there is no one to persecute him.

Yet the
doctor maliciously continues to follow Frankenstein, hoping to
completely destroy his creation. When Dr.
Frankenstein dies, his monster is the first to come to lay his body to
rest and follow him into the afterlife.
Frankenstein fits the idea of a true hero, rather than the romantic
view of heroism shared by society. He is chivalrous, loyal, and true to
himself. Frankenstein shows his chivalry by helping a family in need
and still accepting their hatred of him.

He acts to help others
although he receives nothing in return. Frankenstein holds absolute
loyalty to his creator. Dr. Frankenstein shuns his creation,
Frankenstein, and devotes his life to killing the monster, yet
Frankenstein is the first to show respect to his fallen master after his
death. Frankenstein builds a funeral pyre to honor his master and
creator who despised him during his life.

Frankenstein's loyalty
extends as far as the ritual suicide he commits while cremating the body
of his creator. Most importantly, Frankenstein is true to himself.
Society wishes that he would cease to exist, so their opinion is
irrelevant to him. His creator shuns him, but Frankenstein learns to
cope with his own emotions in order to support himself.

relies solely on what he believes in, not in what society believes to be
important. His actions are based upon his own assessment of situations,
rather than what is socially acceptable.
Grendel is also isolated from society, and his actions also classify
him as a true hero. Like Frankenstein, Grendel has little outside
influence and has to rely on his own emotions to make decisions.
Grendel possesses bravery, yet he does not have the foolish pride of

"The first virtue of heroism is bravery,
but even more, it is blind courage"(Nicholson 47). Grendel is the
epitome of "blind courage." For example, when the bull attacks Grendel,
he simply calculates the bull's movements and fearlessly moves out of
the way. Even when the bull rips through his leg, Grendel is not

Grendel repeatedly charges into the meadhall and destroys its
best warriors without a second thought. Grendel even has the courage to
taunt Hrothgar's bravest thanes by throwing apples at them. Grendel
"breaks up their wooden gods like kindling and topples their gods of
stone"(Gardner 128). It is this type of "blind courage" that Grendel
believes saves his life in battle.

"Fate will often spare a man if his
courage holds"(Gardner 162). Beowulf, on the other hand, is foolish in
his approach to battle. He goes to fight an immortal opponent, the
dragon, and is killed because of his pride. "His very valor, wisdom, and
magnanimity, expended unstindtly, lead only to a hero's grave in a land
soon to be conquered"(Brodeur 105). Grendel's "blind courage" is far
superior to the "blind stupidity" of Beowulf.
Just as society's heroes fight foolishly, their opinions are made by
prejudice and reflect the ignorance of humankind.

Both monsters are
seen as the minions of evil, and even of Satan himself. "Grendel is
placed in a Biblical lineage of evil reaching back to the first
murder"(Hamilton 105). Even the author of the poem alludes to "the
descent of the race of Grendel from Cain"(Donaldson 1688). Frankenstein
is proposed to be of "accursed origin"(Milton 130). However, neither of
the two can be properly defined as Satanic,
especially on the information known to the rest of society. Continuing,
this belief causes extended prejudice of the monsters even in our
society today.

Through the predetermined opinions of society, Grendel is seen as an
evil come to destroy all of mankind. Grendel is a victim of society,
he was not born inherently evil. "Woe to him who is compelled, through
cruel persecution, to thrust his soul into the embrace of fire, to hope
for no solace"(Kennedy 9). Society unduly restrains Grendel to heinous
stereotypes that he does not fit. For example, another character more
closely fits the description of Cain than Grendel. "The only one of the
personages of the poem who is clearly said to be destined to suffer in
hell is Unferth, who, in his responsibility for the death of his
brothers, has committed the sin of Cain"(Brodeur 218).

Clearly, it is
not Grendel that should be condemned. He only tries to assimilate into
society, but after being continually rejected he turns to violence in
response to society's hatred of him.
Similar to Grendel, Frankenstein is also pictured as satanic. Brooks
concurs in saying that society "views Frankenstein to be a unique
creation, like Adam 'united by no link to any other being in
existence'(Milton 129), yet by his condition more resembling

"There are times when he scarcely seems to be of this
earth"(Venables 59). Also like Grendel, Frankenstein was not born evil,
he was forced into his way of life by the society that rejected him.
After this rejection, Frankenstein "like the arch-fiend, bore a
hell within him"(Shelley 136). To each man his own god, and to each man
his own devil as well. Frankenstein, "like Coleridge's wedding guest,
leaves 'a sadder and wiser man'"(Scott 201). He now better understands
his existence and how society wrongfully rejects it.

simply wants society to have the "knowledge that might enable him to
make them overlook the deformity of his figure"(Shelley 114). "Man
how ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom!"(Shelley 201).
Grendel's and Frankenstein's superiority to humankind is made obvious
by their ability to live in a society that has ostracized them, the
monsters' true heroism in place of humankind's romantic view, and the
ignorance on which society's opinion of the monsters is based. "The
monsters not only embody our fears of the way certain entities can
artificially pervert nature in ourselves and our society, they also
speak to us knowledgeably of nature and in a human voice, to tell us we
need not be afraid of them"(Scott
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