A Comparative Essay on Grendel and The Picture of Dorian Gray
The roles or function of the female characters in Grendel and The Picture of Dorian Gray has several elements that reflect the attributes of the woman of today.
In Grendel, the only female character that represents such element is Grendel’s mother.
On the other hand, The Picture of Dorian Gray has several minor female characters but the role of Dorian Gray’s distressed fiancée, Sibyl Vane attracts a vivid depiction of the woman of today.
Grendel’s mother and Sibyl Vane are two different women with different intellectual capacities. While Grendel’s mother is a person who has difficulty in expressing herself and a beast that lacks intelligence Sibyl Vane is a genius. Grendel’s mother only communicates to in a soundless manner. His son even thinks that she is a fool with no name and reminds him about her only as a dim memory with no actual living presence.
Grendel is irritated on how her mother acts and finds her affected by some psychiatric disorder. Aside from that, Grendel’s mother displays a function on the importance of language in the novel and serves as an impact towards the development of civilization. To quote, “I was, in her eyes, some meaning I could never know and might not care to know” (Gardner 11) expressed by Grendel to expresses how he needed his mother to communicate to him and for the lack of language; she is a failure and Grendel cannot feel her presence.
On the other hand, Sibyl Vane is the total opposite of Grendel’s mother in both physical and intellectual. She is an actress with so much beauty and talent that make Dorian Gray fall in love with her. However, such external beauty and talent turned out that it only exist while she is on stage playing the role of Juliet.
Both female characters hide deceptive cloak and superficial attributes.
Although, Grendel’s mother cannot communicate with him, he believes that her mother is hiding some secrets from him. There is something that her mother knows but would not tell him. Grendel only finds the sad truth after the dragon told him everything. Grendel’s mother sees into his son’s eye indifferently. Grendel saw in it the crushing love that embraces him but avoids seeing deep within her because she wants to hide the truth of Grendel’s existence, thus trying to express separateness.
On the other hand, Sibyl Vane is portraying two different personalities, the Sibyl Vane playing on stage as Juliet and off stage as another character of Sibyl Vane. After falling in love to Dorian Gray, she realizes how the stage has turned her into an artificial being. In other words, she is not the real her in the general sense, in Dorian’s grays eyes she is different. After seeing her poor performance and during this time she is already very much in love with Dorian Gray.
Dorian Gray broke her heart and led her to commit suicide after leaving her that night. “You have killed my love. You used to stir my imagination. Now you do not even stir my curiosity. You simply produce no effect. I loved you because you were marvelous, because you had genius and intellect, because you realized the dreams of great poets and gave shape and substance to the shadows of art. You have thrown it all away. You are shallow and stupid “(Wilde 98). These words came from Dorian Gray’s mouth full of sneering pain that penetrates into her inner soul. She realizes that she is not after all the Sibyl Vane that existed and has full of beauty and talent. She is a woman of false character and confused identity.
Similar Implications of the Two Female Character Roles to the Present Day.
The role of the two female characters has several implications that are very relevant to the society. Grendel’s mother represents the love of person to somebody but refuses to let that person see more inside her. It is a society of people who existed but seem to appear invisible in the general sense of view because the actual cannot be felt for the lack of openness and broad mindedness.
Same with Sibyl Vane, she acts but not acting in her real self. She portrays a different kind of woman and she is very much aware of that after realizing that she does not need anymore to act when she saw how beautiful it is to be true. This simply explains how the woman of today refuses to be acknowledged by their beauty, she simply wants to be observed in a perception or in an outlook of a more indifferent personality.
The novels, Grendel and The Picture of Dorian Grays reveal the true nature of our society. It mirrors how the people manipulate and controls their image in the society. However, internally, they carve to express the real person in them and superficially, act in the shoes of another person depriving them of their own originality. Our society today is filled with women whose lives live in superficial beauty and deceptive motives. They compromise things and thus deprive themselves of the true happiness of life.
Gardner, John. Grendel. New York: Knopf, 1971:11.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Lawlered, Donald L., ed. New York: W. W.
Norton & Company, 1988:53-98.
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