How are monsters created? The question whether people are born evil or are transformed has been around forever. The Creature from Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley, and Grendel from Grendel, written by John Gardner, had similar situations. Grendel was a beast who had no communication with humans or any other living creature. He could understand the humans, but they could not understand him. He could not even communicate with his mom because she had forgotten the language long ago. He was isolated from the world and changed because of the occurrences and harm the humans caused him physically and emotionally.
The Creature was created by Victor Frankenstein, a driving scientist set on bringing the Creature alive. After successfully completing his experiment Victor was disgusted by him and could not look at his horrifying creation. He abandoned the Creature and left him for dead. The Creature later goes on to be harmed and rejected by many humans and is left to fend for himself in the cruel world. John Locke argues that an individual’s mind is a blank slate, without rules for processing data, and rules for processing are formed through one’s experiences.
The Creature from Frankenstein and Grendel from Grendel were born with blank slates and were transformed through their experiences and environment. The Creature from Frankenstein came alive with no knowledge of anything. He was a baby in a giant’s body. He was clueless of his surroundings and could not control his senses. He was a miserable wreck who knew nothing and could distinguish nothing (Shelley 84). Imagine a baby crying in seek of his or her mother’s arms. This is the same situation the Creature was in. He had no knowledge of anything and needed the guidance of another.
He gradually began to collect himself and he noticed all of the wonders of the world. He noticed all the sights and sounds of nature around him. This brought him peace and he began forward on his new life. He eventually found a hut just out of view of a small house. In the proceeding months he learned an extraordinary amount by watching his neighbors. The Creature says, “I began to comprehend most of the words uttered by my protectors” (Shelley 99). Like Victor, the Creature had a desire for attaining knowledge. He learned the family’s language just by listening and watching their lips.
He was learning new things daily and he was becoming a part of this world. The Creature could have accomplished more than any human could have because of his burning desire for knowledge. He says, “while I improved in speech, I also learned the science of letters as it was taught” (Shelley 99). The Creature could have discovered things no man could ever. All he needed was for someone to give him a chance and to look past his appearance. At this point in the Creature’s life he is not a monster. After being neglected by society though everything changes.
The experiences the Creature goes through in the next phase of his life transformed him into the Monster he becomes. He builds up enough courage to introduce himself to his neighbors. He waits for the blind man to be alone because he knows the others would judge him. Once inside he has a friendly conversation with the older man. The man has no eyes to judge, so he thinks the creature is a traveler seeking warmth and shelter. Felix, Safie and Agatha enter and they are quick to judge. They view him as a vicious monster who will tear them apart. The Creature says, “who can describe their horror and consternation on beholding me?
Agatha fainted, and Safie, unable to attend to her friend, rushed out of the cottage. Felix dashed me to the ground and struck me violently with a stick” (Shelley 115). One can imagine the agony the Creature felt after being betrayed by the people he called his family. Throughout the whole book nobody gives him a chance before running for their lives or attacking him. Like the Creature, Grendel goes through many hardships and is in the same difficult situation. Grendel attains knowledge through watching the humans as well. He watches Hrothgar, the Danish king, and learns about the their situation and ways of life.
One day Grendel gets his foot stuck in a tree stump and is left stranded for days. Hrothgar and his men stumble upon him and “the king snatched an ax from the man beside him and, without any warning, hurled it at [him)” (Gardner 27). Grendel’s mom shows up and scares off Hrothgar and his men saving Grendel. Before Hrothgar threw the ax Grendel tried to speak but although he could understand the men, they could not understand him (Gardner 26). Once Grendel and his mom return to their cave the reader learns that his mom cannot communicate. He cannot even have a conversation with his mom. He is all by himself, isolated from the world.
The monstrousness of the Creature can be analyzed through The Body of Pain by Elaine Scarry. Scarry argues that “an individual’s perceptual world can be recoded by pain, which annihilates subjective identity by its systematic interruption and reversal of efforts at self-extension” (Scarry qtd. in Bernatchez 205). This directly backs up the thesis that Grendel and the Creature turned evil after going through hardships in life. They were born with a blank slate and were transformed because of the things they went through. Grendel says, “why can’t I have someone to talk to? (Gardener 53) which shows how empty and lonely he feels.
His circumstance and experiences led to his transformation. He eventually met with a dragon who could understand him. The Dragon put a charm on Grendel which made him invincible to the humans. This led to overconfidence and was a contributing factor in Grendel’s transformation into a monster. Both the Creature and Grendel were not always monsters, nor were they born evil. Both were clueless of the world around them and, after going through difficult situations, changed into the monsters people treated them as. These two creatures were curious of the world and all they wanted was to feel accepted by society.
Society is the driving factor in these two books. Society looked at these two creatures as monsters just because of their appearances and their judgement and criticism drove these creatures to their edge. They were attacked, abused, and neglected by every individual they came in contact with. Their whole mentality changed because of this and their isolation. They became frustrated about their situations and took it out on the people that harmed them. Both could have accomplished many things in life, and could have lived in society if people did not mistreat them.