Drawn to the Shaper’s songs – his language and his music — Grendel repeatedly visits the mead hall. While he listens, he is confronted with an enormous problem: Language, which Grendel has previously used to define the world and to describe the accidental, ugly, and “mechanical” rise of men, is being used to re-define the world. And in this new definition, the world is a beautiful place – made by generous Gods for the generous, good, kind, and peaceful humans, and Grendel is a horrible demon outcast.
Language, which was Grendel’s way of defining the world, is now defining Grendel. And although he doesn’t like being defined in this way, the story is so beautiful (with Grendel’s curse and all) that Grendel is moved to believe it – or at least believe that this order and kindness exist in the world. But while watching the shaper, Grendel trips over the body of a man who has been robbed and murdered. This dead body provides Grendel with yet another piece of evidence that proves that NONE of the world that the Shaper sings about is true. Here’s how Grendel describes this feeling:
“Imagination, I knew. Some evil inside myself pushed out into the trees. I knew what I knew, the mindless, mechanical bruteness of things, and when the harper’s lure drew my mind away to hopeful dreams, the dark of what was and always was reached out and snatched my feet. “ (Gardiner, 54)
This “dark of what was and always was” is embodied by the Dragon – who seems to appear to Grendel various times in the previous scene, but in the form of snakes, which he interacts with. So it makes sense that he goes to the Dragon in order to understand what life is all about. As you view Grendel’s conversation with the Dragon, pay attention to the world vies that this Dragon has. Compare it to your own thoughts of HOW one ought to live, and WHY things are the way they are.