Monsters, Inc.

Monsters/Criminals Analyzed in Beowulf and Canterbury Tales

Dear Reader,

Welcome to my smore! I am a senior at Chillicothe High School in Missouri. In our last semester as high school students, we have spent our time reading, discussing, and analyzing literature. More specifically, we have examined topics and themes portrayed in Beowulf and Canterbury Tales.

Each individual in class was assigned a multi-genre project, with each piece of said project revolving around one central topic. I chose monsters/criminals, because I was fascinated with the representations the authors portrayed in the works regarding the antagonists. I felt there were lots of misconceptions regarding the villains, and I wanted to consider all of these and form my own opinion. I used these considerations when picking my genres. I completed a ballad in memory of Grendel and his story. I also stuck with this idea when I wrote my eulogy for Grendel. In regards to The Canterbury Tales, I decided to write a diary entry so that I could express a character's perspective in a candid and honest way. Now of course I had to revise. However, the process was pretty simple. I just read my projects over and over to see how I could most thoroughly express my ideas and theme.

I have learned a lot throughout this process, truly. I think the most beneficial and influential lesson I have learned was that one needs to dig deeper into the story. There is so much to be received from a story, and I learned that just by actually analyzing the story in different views will help gain not only comprehension of the story itself but life changing morals and ideas. I also learned that issues back in the time of Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales are issues that mankind struggles with today. Stories from long ago are just as relevant and entertaining as recent literature.

For this project, I feel like I did well analyzing the perspectives that others did not think of often. Most of my peers were quick to assign Beowulf as the only protagonist and Grendel as the antagonist in Beowulf. I felt like the side of Grendel should be considered, and I did my best to incorporate that consideration in a few of my pieces. This is the same for the other story; I wanted to look at evil in different ways that were not as obvious.

There were challenges that I faced as well. I felt like I had to make many assumptions in the story. Now I think I stayed within reasonable bounds; however, I still struggled with balancing my own opinions with the literal text given.

In the future, I want to dive even deeper into the text. I want to analyze more minor characters and their role in the story. Every character has a part, and I want to be more of a spokesperson to them. Also, I want to find more ways that today's society can relate and benefit from older texts.

In conclusion, thank you for reading my page! I genuinely hope you learn something or find a catalyst to broadening your own inner views. Thank you!



A Ballad for Grendel Description

I was inspired to write this, because I feel like monsters/criminals are misunderstood. Only after we have their full background can we establish any sort of judgment, if at all. Heroes are not always good, and monsters are not always bad. Since we do not have much information on Grendel, I decided to write this ballad in honor of him and his misfortunate life. The theme is that “even monsters/criminals cannot escape fate.” I wanted to express my curiosity and empathy towards Grendel, but heroes and monsters cannot avoid the wrath of life.

A Ballad for Grendel

Oh what light through yonder window breaks...

No he was not that lucky, so his life is taken away.

He was under attack and decided to take

The life of the innocent and for that he pays.

Criminals or monsters, who can tell?

Neither can escape the hands of God.

One has tried, but still he fell.

Only for heroes will they applaud.

Grendel, you killed and destroyed people in your town.

They wanted peace from your wrath.

Their only option was Beowulf, who would not back down.

At this point, your faith only had one path.

Oh, monsters. Why do you do what you do?

We cannot understand you when you act this way.

Maybe if we knew, your life would not be through.

Some of us might have wished for your stay.

Fate does not pick favorites in this world.

No matter your innocence, the end will come.

As much justice as Beowulf hurled,

I still think you’re good Grendel, despite the absence of your thumb.

An Excerpt from the Summoner's Diary Description

The theme I tried to portray with this piece is that a “monster or criminal’s corruption is not always obvious; they can be mistaken as a protagonist.” My inspiration here was from the corruption of the Catholic Church during this time. I did a little digging in the prologue of The Canterbury Tales and saw some differences in the ways similar characters were described by the narrator. I like the perspective of the diary as well, because then I feel that I can write the character as being completely candid of his and other’s corruption.

An Excerpt from the Summoner's Diary

Dear Diary,

I cannot possibly hold back my excitement for the journey ahead of me! My pilgrimage will soon become the highlight of my spirituality. I must confess diary, however, that I am nervous and harboring strong feelings of doubt. The inn in which I find myself staying this beautiful spring night has given me much joy and company.

Despite this warm welcome, some things still feel amiss. It is not hidden that I am of the lower class...and not even the slightly respectable lower class. I was born into this lifestyle, and I know I will never leave. There are other individuals here of much higher esteem, with much money and power. I am blessed to even be in their presence. However, I cannot help but feel insecure. There are higher class individuals who, in theory, do the same work as me.

The Friar is one example. He is one of the church, but is he holy? His occupation is to take money from people and in return he provides confession; he does this for greed. Of course, no one would describe him this way. In fact, I overheard a simple, middle-class man talking to the Host about the individuals gathered here tonight. I believe that in reference to the Friar, he said, “He was an easy man in penance-giving. Where he could hope to make a decent living; it’s a sure sign whenever gifts are given to a poor Order that a man’s well shriven.” I mean, really? He “hopes” to make a decent living? No...he yearns for money, craves riches beyond what his church can provide. But the simple man described my accrued wealth differently: “He only had a few, say two or three, that he had mugged up out of some decree.” For the record, dear precious diary, I am NOT the only man extorted money from people. Mark my words!

Grendel's Eulogy Description

The theme I attempted to portray here is that “apathy or silence in the face of inequality and injustice can be as monstrous as violent action.” I felt that no one can excuse Grendel for his actions; however, his hunger is in his nature. This eulogy is from the perspective of a man I named Yosef. He was a survivor of Grendel’s reign and was strongly affected by the events. I felt that instead of instant fear and assumed violence, there could have been attempts to solve the problems in other ways. I know there could probably have been no happy ending, but I cannot help but feel upset at the loneliness and unfair treatment that Grendel experienced, especially in his last moments.

Grendel's Eulogy

Good evening. Thank you all for joining me, despite each of our different reasons for being here in the deceased presence of such a villainous monster.

I assume most of you want to celebrate the death of this creature, and I must confess that I too feel this way at times. However, how can we not place some blame on ourselves? Think for a moment, friends, the harsh truth regarding the fact that we never felt anything but hatred towards Grendel; we did not help his pained life. Our silence will be forever remembered and punished. We all can instantly recall the day we watched Beowulf, the most amazing fighter and ruler who has ever lived, kill Grendel in a bloody battle! The day is ingrained in my mind. His dismembered arm on the ceiling and the trail of blood...the cheers and congratulations of our fearless leader. Of course I fought for Beowulf, and I always will! However, my attention still briefly focused on Grendel and his untimely death.

I am not daft; I realize there was probably no saving him. However, we did not make his stay any easier. Someday the greed and narrow-mindedness of men will be the death of civilization itself. We had no business resorting straight to indifference and then crime as opposed to effort and support. Death should not be the last and only option. Heed my words! One day the world will realize this truth. But remember I do not counter Beowulf’s attempts. I praise him! However, I feel empathy towards Grendel more than I am comfortable sharing. Thank you. Remember my words!


Below is a screencast I recorded briefly analyzing the themes regarding monsters/criminals in Beowulf. There is more than meets the eye!
Monsters in Beowulf Analyzed


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