Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Publication Date



Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Maggie Monteverde

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


In this paper, I explore the implications of the narrator in Beowulfdescribing Grendel as the "son of Cain." I use this reference as it applies to Beowulf, Grendel, and Grendel's mother, to interrogate what exactly it means to be a monster, and who gets to place this designation on others. What I find is ultimately, there is no true system behind who is the monster and who is the hero: one is simply favored by society, accepted as part of their "normal," and one is not. By walking through a series of parallels between Beowulf and Grendel, who both inherit characteristics from the Biblical Cain and Abel story, I point out exactly how dependent on chance and perspective this labeling can be.