Cathy meaningless, which parallels the theory of solipsism: “I

Cathy Liu

Ms. Pettet

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European Literature and
the Imagination


Chapter Analysis

philosophy that the chapter illustrates is solipsism,
“it’s an extreme egocentrism with the theory that self is all that can be known
to exist and that knowledge of anything outside the mind is unjustified.” (branch/Doctrine)
Solipsists believe that they have no independent existence of their own, and might in fact not
even exist. “Solipsism is the philosophical idea
that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position,
solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one’s own mind is unsure” (Solipsism).

definitions of the world and himself matches the definitions of solipsism. In
chapter two Grendel believes that his world exists alone because he has no
friends and he has been isolated from others: when he went out of the cave he
said, “I understood that the world was nothing; a mechanical chaos of casual,
brute enmity on which we stupidly impose our hopes and fears. I understood
that, finally and absolutely, I alone exist.” (22) In this quote he denies the
meaning of the existence of the world. The world in his eyes is meaningless,
which parallels the theory of solipsism: “I am the only mind which exists.”, because
a solipsist always thinks the world is always centered around them. Grendel
says he alone exists at the end which explains the reason he cannot find the
meaning of the world, because he is not “in” the world, he exists in his own
world; even though he goes out of the cave and tries to interact with the
humans, he is still isolated.

also tried to define the things that he sees, “The mountains are what I define
them as.”(28) The meaning of this quote is that everything exists through
his view and he can define them as he sees them. It means that even if it’s actually
a hill, if he defines it as a mountain, then it is a mountain. Solipsists
believe that every existence is based on “My” experience, just like the
processes of Grendel observing the world: “I exist, nothing else.” (28) He
uses his eyes to observe the world and he truly believes what he sees, and he
believes that there is no other experience other than his own, just as the
solipsist to view the world with their own eyes.

this chapter, Grendel mentions that he alone exists multiple times, because he
feels isolated and doesn’t understand human existence; the loneliness influences
the way that he sees the world, that’s why he thinks everything is useless:”
What I see I inspire with usefulness, I think, trying to suck in breath, and
all that I do not see useless, void.”(29) Grendel sees the world as a product
of his own mind, the isolation leads him to believe all things around him and
others  would not exist if he didn’t see
them. Before Grendel meets humans and hears the songs of Shaper, the loneliness
makes him become a solipsist.

think this chapter is important because this is the first time that Grendel
goes out of the cave and has a connection with the human world. Also, this is
the first time that he learns how to get along with others. So this
chapter significant to the rest of the novel because after Grendel sees the
outside world and gets hurt, he starts to know that the world is not in fact as
good as he thought. He realizes that he still has so many things to learn, so then
he begins to be pessimistic about the world as well as people around him in the
following chapter. Not only that, Grendel also feels separated and unfamiliar
with his mother for the first time, “When her strange eyes burned into me, it
did not seem quite sure. I was intensely aware of where I sat, the volume of
darkness I displaced, the shiny-smooth span of packed dirt between us, and the
shocking separateness from me and mama’s eyes.” (17) In this quote the word
“darkness” and “separateness” in the sentence gives me a good understanding of
the mixture of emotions that Grendel feels when he sees his mother’s eyes. When
he feels strange with his mother he also feels strange about this world,
because one’s mother is an important role in everyone’s life, including Grendel,
especially because he has no one stay with him except for his mother. In this
chapter when he gets attacked by the bull, its’ just like when one meets
problems in life for the first time, one will find their mother for help.
Grendel also asks his mother for help but with no response, he feels helpless
and desperate but finally his mother comes and saves him. I learned that there exists
one kind of love with no words; you may cannot see it, but it’s just there.

also learned that experience will influence how people see the world. Because Grendel
never went out of the cave when he was little, had no friends and spent most of
his time alone, he doesn’t know anything outside and doesn’t know how to get
along with people. His theory changes when he meets different people, and he
easily believes what others say, such as when he meets Shaper and Dragon, he
truly believes their philosophy. This chapter brings me the questions of human experience
that if it’s actually that easy to change a person’s view to see the world and
treat others because of one injury.









Work citied

Mastin, Luke. “The Basics
of Philosophy .” Solipsism – By Branch / Doctrine – The Basics of


“Solipsism.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Jan.

Thornton, Stephen P. “Solipsism
and the Problem of Other Minds.” Internet
Encyclopedia of