In the course of a conversation with the Spawn, the subject of why Lady MacBeth is evil came up. This led to my saying that one of the nice things about Shakespeare is that sometimes (as it is in life) characters are evil simply because they’re evil — Edmund, for example.
And from there, we started talking about the Grinch. In the Jim Carrey movie, the Grinch is provided with a backstory to explain/justify his grinchiness. In the book and cartoon, of course, there is no such explanation (apart from the possibility that his heart is a couple of sizes too small.) He’s a monstrous outsider driven to attack the community/civilization around him.
And that’s when the idea hit me:
The Grinch is an image of Grendel.
Think about it. The Grinch complains about the racket in Whoville; Grendel is angered by the doings at the Heorot. But think of the specific noise. The Grinch particularly mentions the Christmas celebrations as bothersome — he doesn’t visit depredations on the Whos at Midsummer, for instance. Meanwhile, we’re told Grendel is especially annoyed by:
[…] the din of revelhigh in the hall: there harps rang out,clear song of the singer. He sang who knewtales of the early time of man,how the Almighty made the earth,fairest fields enfolded by water,set, triumphant, sun and moonfor a light to lighten the land-dwellers,and braided bright the breast of earthwith limbs and leaves, made life for allof mortal beings that breathe and move.
It’s religious festivity that aggravates the invader in each case. And in each case, the monster intrudes on sleepers and eats them (in the case of Grendel) or at least takes the homeowners’ food (even the last can of Who Hash.) So, a thesis:
The Grinch is the comic manifestation of Grendel, ultimately regenerated by his faith-based recognition of “what Christmas is.”