Alternating between the sublime Orwellian double-talk of the minstrel Shaper and the cold, condescendingly bleak philosophy of the Dragon, Grendel struggles for meaning. Told that his life and energies exist only for man to define himself against, he finds small consolation. Still, Grendel throws himself on the mercy of the men in a Frankenstein's monster effort to be accepted... to no avail, deciding after that 'why should I not' destroy them . At times darkly humourous, and touching, the creature muses on the beauty of Hrothgar's placid, sacrificing wife before attempting to kill her, and plays with the fallen hero Unferth before Beowulf's arrival. As those familiar with the epic know, Beowulf in the original poem arrives from across the sea to save Hrothgar's hall by doing battle with Grendel, his mother, and eventually the Dragon. Grendel senses Beowulf's arrival and marvels at the concept of fear. Familiarity with the story makes the inevitability of the conflict all the more delicious when Grendel finally realizes his purpose and observes 'I cannot believe such monstrous energy of grief would lead to nothing' the reader is left to answer that it did not lead to nothing, it was a necessary component in an incredible story, told from the historical antagonist's point of view.
Another great book is The Price of Immortality, I highly recommend it.