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Word Count: 636
Too often society defines heroes as those who possess extraordinary super powers or those who act as martyrs Society sees these people as heroes and underestimates the heroism that lies within traditional people with conventional lives In Grendel by John Gardner Grendels understanding of humanitys cruelty broadens the definition of heroism in modern and historical culture Although Grendel plays the role of a monster in the story he is more essential to the kingdom than any hero because he provides them with the reality that death is inescapable Traditional heroism involves admirable traits yet society overlooks the necessities those unconventional heroes provide through exemplifying integrity resisting convention and outstanding but understated achievement In Grendel a brave warrior speaks of heroism and states Except in the life of a hero the whole worlds meaningless 89 Yet in Grendel the antagonist actually provides more quality to life than the protagonist does Considering the circumstances of Grendels life Grendel shows integrity simply by having a splinter of hope in humanity and its future Distraught at the bloodshed and cruelty of society Grendel loses sight of the goodness that humans are capable of and attacks the kingdom out of despair rage and unbelief Providing them with the knowledge that one day their lives will end Grendel gives quality and meaning to their lives disproving Unferths statement Unferth also says The hero sees values beyond what is possible Thats the nature of a hero It kills him of course ultimately 89 Contrastingly Kenneth Beck reveals through illness that the value of life is immeasurable His battle with paralysis proves that life is not only meaningful but that everything about life contains meaning and everything during life should be cherished Kenneths accident and wavering recovery conveyed the value of life through realizing its ultimate mortality His experience provides a lesson that cannot be taught in a classroom or read in a book Kenneth exemplifies a hero because he hung onto life
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