Parallels of Evil: "Paradise Lost" and "Beowulf" Comparison Essay by Jessie

Parallels of Evil: "Paradise Lost" and "Beowulf"
Argues that Grendel in "Beowulf" and Satan in Milton's "Paradise Lost" share important characteristics as parallel portrayals of evil.
# 149578 | 1,270 words | 1 source | MLA | 2011 | US
Published on Dec 25, 2011 in Literature (English) , Religion and Theology (The Bible) , English (Analysis)

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This paper explains that the personality and motivations of the evil character of Satan in "Paradise Lost" and the triad of Grendel, mother and dragon in "Beowulf" demonstrate the parallel relationship of these two epics. The paper relates that Satan and Grendel are the embodiments of evil, unable to change their ways, exiles striving to destroy the perfection of which they can never be a part and unable to take joy in any activity except the destruction of paradise. The paper points out how both stories use Christian ideals to establish their epic format, drawing upon the Bible as source material for their villains.

From the Paper:

"Further similarities between the two villains exist. Both Satan and Grendel are powerful beings. They must be, to give their respective defeats an epic quality. Grendel slaughters men in Hrothgar's hall with ease and is invulnerable to weapons. Satan is both a proud general possessing military prowess but also a tactician. Unlike Grendel, he is victorious, not through might but by his subtle manipulation of Eve. Just as Milton presents a wider scope for his storyline, the fall of man encompasses all of creation, heaven, earth and hell, so does his villain dwarf the power of Beowulf's Grendel. Satan is more impressive, more frightening, and more evil. He must be, to be a worthy adversary of God and Christ. Still, this does not erase the clear parallels between the two. After all, neither is invincible.
"Both Grendel and Satan flee when outmatched. Beowulf rips off Grendel's arm and the creature flees to his home and must be hunted down. Satan flees when confronted by Gabriel, understanding that he is outmatched. Victory over both is ascribed to God's intervention. Beowulf states, "Whichever one death fells must deem it a just judgment by God." Similarly, God prepares Jesus for his battle with Satan and the initial victory over the rebellion in heaven."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Greenblatt, S. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume I: The Middle Ages through the Restoration and the Eighteenth Century, W. W. Norton, New York, NY, 2005.

Cite this Comparison Essay:

APA Format

Parallels of Evil: "Paradise Lost" and "Beowulf" (2011, December 25) Retrieved September 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Parallels of Evil: "Paradise Lost" and "Beowulf"" 25 December 2011. Web. 26 September. 2021. <>