In the novel Grendel written by John Gardner, the anti-hero Grendel establishes an intricate relationship with language. Towards the beginning of the novel, it is apparent that Grendel has developed a fervent passion for language. He displays a knack for writing in a multitude of styles and voices. At certain times, Grendel’s style of writing appears to be analogous to the style of writing found within the epics of the Anglo-Saxons. He reverts to his childhood and narrates a few flashbacks that he has committed to memory.
Despite Grendel’s ardent infatuation for language in the beginning of the novel, his zeal for it diminishes as a result of his maturation throughout the novel. During his dealings with the humans, he feels as though the humans do not display a sufficient amount of reverence and admiration for language. Grendel’s witnessing of the human’s disregard for apt grammar leads to the devaluation of his prior dedication to language and his rather extensive vocabulary.
The negligence and lack of care for language displayed by Grendel as a result of the human’s actions is no surprise. His reaction to the human’s deficiency of passion can be viewed as a parallel to a real-life reaction of someone who has endured a significant amount of disrespect for something that they are rather passionate about. Witnessing a populace display impassionate behavior towards a subject can result in the exhibition of impassionate behavior by others.