John Gardner

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The Intertwining Trees Symbol Icon
Hrothgar dreams that he sees two trees that have grown together, twisting around each other. This image encapsulates the mutual dependence that characterizes the relationship between Grendel and Hrothgar (and the humans more generally). The trees are two separate beings but are related and dependent on each other. Similarly, Hrothgar and Grendel rely on the other in their antagonistic relationship. As the dragon tells Grendel, he spurs the humans on to improve and provides a monstrous example from which they can distinguish themselves and thus define themselves as human. Similarly, Grendel gains a sense of identity as a monster from his rivalry with the Danes. Grendel’s and Hrothgar’s fate are intertwined, just like the trunks of the trees.
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The Intertwining Trees Symbol Timeline in Grendel

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Intertwining Trees appears in Grendel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Monsters and Humans Theme Icon
...then narrates the dream he has: he is alone standing in a thicket. There are two trees that have grown into one, winding around each other. There is the flash of a... (full context)