Final Paper

Submitted By cindy_flores122
Words: 543
Pages: 3

Consistent in literature throughout every era and culture, archetypes represent a recurring image, pattern, or motif mirroring a typical human experience. An idea developed by Carl Jung, archetypes in literature exist as representations reflecting vital perceptions of the human psyche expressing the manner in which individuals experience the world. Using Jung’s concept, writers of all epochs embeds archetypes in structures, characters, and images of their narratives. John Gardner, in his novel Grendel, integrates several of Jung’s archetypes into his epic tale derived from the early story Beowulf. Gardner associates Jung’s personas of the outcast, the shadow, and the mentor-pupil relationship through the identities of Grendel, the narrator of events, and the dragon.

The outcast, an identity relating to nearly every humanistic myth or story, represents the tragic creature Grendel. A giant beast with the intellectual equivalence of a human, Grendel lives nearly half his life before realizing the existence of man, beings talking, thinking, and acting just as he functions. Piteous misfortune allows that man should fear concepts and matters they cannot understand, leading to the inevitable rejection of Grendel. For certain Grendel’s intentions remained noble from the beginning, overwhelmed with bliss and intrigue that other creatures such as he thrived. Unjustly unaccepted and despised, identity begins to dissolve into latent dispositions common to all men. Grendel falls into this pattern, the potential of experiencing the unconscious side of a personality which lies within us all. This common archetype termed the Shadow reinforces the possibility of experiencing chaos and an unfamiliar darkness, indicating the draw nearer to the material structure of psychic life. Because of the injustice Grendel received from man, he drew within himself, encountering a violent, dark variation of his mind.

While accepting his role as outcast and developing his shadow character, Grendel receives outside insight from the dragon, representing the archetypal mentor-pupil relationship. The dragon acts as Grendel’s mentor, offering his perceptive observation of Grendel’s situation and his pessimistic view of life and humanity. Though Grendel may not understand or agree with his opinions, the dragon remains the only other beast he may converse with concerning…