Beowulf and Grendel: THE HALL HEOROT IS ATTACKED BY GRENDEL
Beowulf is one of the greatest surviving epic poems. It was composed by Germanic people more than twelve hundred years ago. Although it is written in Old English, it deals with the Scandinavian forebears of the Anglo-Saxons, the Danes and the Geats. This epic poem concerns itself with Christianity, internal and external evils, and the warriors defeating monsters.
The first passage of this story basically describes the building of Heorot. Hrothgar, decides to build a Valhalla-type of sanctuary for his warriors that he names "Heorot", or the Hall of the Hart (deer hall). This is in the first main passage of the story of Beowulf and this is the first place we find the theme of internal versus external evil. The passage implies that internal evil will ultimately destroy the hall, rather than being attacked by monsters: "The hall stood tall, high and wide-gabled: it would wait fierce flames of vengeful fire: the time was not yet at hand for sword-hate between son-in-law and father-in-law to awaken after murderous rage. "(Norton 28) This foreshadows the internal evil that will destroy the Danes. Another theme in this story is the theme of men versus monsters. This theme comes to light when Grendel is described: "The creature of evil, grim and fierce, was quickly ready, savage and cruel, and seized from their rest thirty thanes".(Norton 28)
Heorot is a drinking hall, where warriors gather for parties and to get drunk. Heorot is a creation of civilization made by Hrothgar, for men to gather as a meeting place and a place to sleep. Hrothgar builds the biggest hall ever made. Grendel then attacks the hall for twelve winters straight, destroying more and more men every night with no remorse, and the men are afraid to sleep in the hall, thinking that maybe Grendel will eat them. Grendel is a ruthless caniball: "I think that if he may accomplish it, unafraid he will feed on the folk of the Geats in the war-hall as he has often done on the flower of men."(Norton 32-33) Grendel is a savage, and he ruthlessly eats his victims. The Hall Heorot is a drinking hall, and most of the warriors stand no chance against Grendel. They are drunk and are not able to attack Grendel. That is part of the reason Hrothgar wants Beowulf to fight Grendel, because the Danish warriors who are too drunk.
The hall was built for the warriors to enjoy themselves: "Thus these warriors lived in joy, blessed, until one began to do evil deeds, a hellish enemy."(Norton 28) Here a parallel is made between Grendel and the warriors. The warriors enjoy themselves, and Grendel is the one on the outside: "The Grim Spirit was called Grendel, known as a rover of the borders, one who held the moors, fen and fastness"(Norton 28). This is the first account of who Grendel is. Grendel is not allowed in the drinking hall and is not part of the community of men. Grendel does not play by the rules of men, but he "did greater slaughter-and had no remorse for it-vengeful acts and wicked".(Norton 29)
In futher description of Grendel, the reader learns: "He wanted no peace with any of the men of the Danish host, would not withdraw his deadly rancor, or pay compensation: no counselor there had any reason to expect splendid repayment at the hands of the slayer. For the monster was relentless, the dark death-shadow, against warriors old and young, lay in wait and ambushed them."(Norton 29) Grendel operates outside of the normal rules. He is a monster who kills people. There are references to many elements of paganism. The following quote reverts to pagan ways and how they pray to the devil. "Soul-slayer" describes the devil and it was believed that pagan deities were actually devils. "At times they vowed sacrafices at heathen temples, with their words prayed that the soul-slayer would give help for the distress of the people".(Norton 29)
According to the epic poem, Beowulf is bigger and larger than anyone else physically. During that time a popular way of tell a story was by word of mouth are very common during that time. An eye-witness account is given when the coast gaurd describes the hero: "Lo, for a long time I have been guard of the coast, held watch by the sea so that no foe with a force of ships might work harm on the Danes land: never have shieldbearers more openly undertaken to come ashore here; nor did you know for sure of a word of leave from our warriors, consent from my kinsmen. I have never seen a mightier warrior on earth than is one of you, a man in battle dress."(Norton 30) We learn Beowulf's identity when he proclaims that "Beowulf is my name".(Norton 31) That is when he is presented for the first time. References were made to Beowulf before this point. He was built up to being a super hero and here is where he makes his first appearance.