Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Doll, Daniel

Second Advisor

White, Leslie

Third Advisor

Verner, Lisa


John Gardner’s Grendel examines the ways in which humans make meaning out of their lives. By changing the original Beowulf monster into a creature who constantly questions the conflicting narratives set before him, Gardner encourages us to confront these tensions also. However, his emphasis on Grendel’s alienation helps us realize that community is essential to creating meaning. Most obviously, community creates relationships that foster a sense of moral obligation between its members, even in the face of the type of uncertainty felt by Grendel. Moreover, community cannot exist without dialogue, which perpetually stimulates the imagination to respond to the tensions contained in a plurality of viewpoints. Gardner encourages us to question narratives which no longer serve us and to use our imagination to tell new stories that cultivate positive ideals such as love and hope.


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