For who the moral?

Not human, also not quite animal for monster I am called. These fables both animals and I fall between. Though closer to beast I see, which side of moral am I meant to be? Mercy should have on human or on me? No pity nor none ‘kinbute’ I receive. If lion be ruler, than should not I get mercy? But subject I am also not. Estranged and wretched, away I always roamed.

Moral or no, my action be fair. My kin you kill and mercy then was none. For no mercy I receive. No mercy could receive. Even with animal, I somewhere in between. Once of human, but through Cain no more. Had I received mercy, if could, what would I be? Where would I fall in this tale? Lion both beast and ruler, but still more beast than common. No ruler and almost beast, but then pity should I have shown for such a deed? Still dead, son and I no more, no kinbute could be made both ways no pity or mercy shown.

Matters not for alone I still be. No more so no need for any.


5 thoughts on “For who the moral?

  1. Thou may be a beast, but a man also must thou be. Thy questions come from thine heart, Mother of Grendel, and that thy ask alone proves thy humanity. Only in choosing to stand alone, to be of thine own company and shun the world of men, didst thou make a mistake. It has been proven through my own travails that lining thy life with faith and the compassion of Good Deeds can allow a place in Our Lord’s kingdom. I know not whether thou wouldst stand in the light of Heaven, nor indeed keep the faith, but I know of compassion. ‘Twas my great mistake in not filling my life with such. Death proved it so.

    But look, oh Mother of Grendel, to the lion. Only at his mercy for the little mouse did he receive any compassion in return. What mercy did thou show to thine enemies? Thou canst not expect such in return, for blood begets blood, as we all must see. Vengeance must have driven thy hand when thou clashed with the warrior Beowulf, as any could understand. But such fury only burns what lies before it, and fire spreads.

    • Good Everyman, thou have expressed my own thoughts in such a way that I cannot help but wonder if ye stole them from my own head! Had the mother of Grendel, as foul as she is, stayed away from the hall of Hrothgar, there would have been no conflict between us. I sought to avenge those men her son did kill, aye, but what sort of man does nothing when he has the power to right the wrongs?

      Had she not struck out against good Hrothgar, she would have lived, and would have not fanned the flames of vengeance within herself or myself. Aye, had she not arrived, I would have been sated and left without pursuing and ending such a foul creature’s life. As ye say, blood begets blood and I fear that Grendel and that which brought him forth still seek mine own blood for their own twisted vengeance.

  2. Your fate was certainly bizarre, Grendel’s mother, considering your complete isolation from the outside world, and this tale does leave you somewhere in between. The lion representing power and authority, while the mice represent the commoner. What does this make you? Perhaps you are simply such an outlier that your presence cannot be felt anywhere in this tale. You provide an exception to the simple accepted rules of authoritative class and commoner. Where is monster here? Are mice and lions not monsters? The black death is not long before Henryson’s life, which rats have been commonly blamed for. Maybe you exist in both lion and rat, Grendel’s mother, the perceived filthy tendencies of a rat and the laziness and seclusion of a lion.

  3. Grendel’s Mother,

    I can see your predicament in trying to locate your place in this tale, and indeed neither creature seems to be a perfect fit. That being said, with a tale such as this, I do not believe that anyone can truly expect to find a perfect representation of themselves. Unlike the real world, which operates in shades of grey, these tales are often black and white. In my own case, in my contest with the Green Knight, although I deviated from the rules, I was allowed to live. If I lived in a fable such as this, I do not believe that the outcome would have been the same for me.

    The purpose of these tales is to instruct morally, and there are gains to be made from learning from both characters. Although the lion is not a perfect copy of you, I think you would do well to learn from him, Mother of Grendel. By sparing the mouse, he in turn spared his own life. Perhaps if yourself and your son had tried to communicate with the humans, and listened to their pleas, then you both would have survived, and there would not have been such grievous bloodshed.

    As I said before, however, such fables as these are simplified to be better aids to teaching, and things often do not work out so tidily. Where I don’t know much of your situation, perhaps I am being presumptuous to offer advice of this nature, but maybe I was of help.

    Kindest regards,
    Sir Gawain

  4. I too, am not human. I am the Rood. Not just any Rood, I am the Rood that stood by our Lord in Heav’n. For whom is the moral? The moral is for man. I need not the moral, since I am already the pinnacle of Christian wood. But maybe a monster such as yourself can also learn from the moral. I could not imagine living as you do, for I am never alone. When I was a tree in the forest, I had the other trees and the little squirrels. When I was the Rood, I had and always have Christ, our Lord. I do not know if you can come to Heav’n since you are a wretched monster but I shall ask our Lord for you.

    Will get in touch soon,
    Love, the Rood.

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