Analyzing Michael Crichton’s Wendol

Image of the Wendol monster from the film, The Thirteenth Warrior, based on Michael Crichton’s novel, Eaters of the Dead.

Image of Grendel from the film Beowulf, based on the epic story (authors unknown)

Michael Crichton’s novel, Eaters of the Dead, is a dramatic, contemporary telling of the classic story, Beowulf. In his interpretation of the epic tale, Crichton introduces a variety of new elements that were slightly altered from the original story. For instance, the author attempts to convey an unbiased, third party perspective to the adventures of Buliwyf, the main character. He does so by introducing a new character; a traveler from a distant land who joins them on their quest. Another slight change that Crichton introduces is the replacement of the monster called Grendel, with a similar and equally deadly monster called Wendol, which is shown in the first image.

In order to break down the first image and determine its principle argument, we must observe the central elements of the image itself. By observing the dark, ominous colors of the scenery, as well as the dark, unnatural hue of the monster’s skin tone, we come to know that the image wishes to convey a frightening impression. The distorted features of the monster, as well as the enlarged teeth and the weapon tell us that this monster is dangerous. There are various principles at work, all shifting our attention to one feature or another, allowing us to make personal judgements as to the purpose of the image.

We can use the principles of ethos, pathos and logos to break down the purpose of the image, as well. We determine the credibility of the photographer in an image by the colors and techniques they use in conveying the argument they are attempting to make. The position of the picture, the hue, etc., all serve to create the argument of the image. This ethos is displayed in the image of Wendol by the colors used, the posture and facial expression of the monster, which all work to create a frightening impression.

Pathos, which draws on the emotion of the audience, uses the distorted features of the monster, the sharp teeth and the crossbow as means of creating this scary impression, as well. Logos is the use of logical argument to influence your audience. In the image of the Wendol, because no words are used, the picture utilizes logos by drawing your attention to certain features in a logical order. When you first look at the monster, you don’t notice the scenery in the background, but the weapon in his hand or the animal skin it wears.

I believe the image of the Wendol makes a clear and concise argument that the picture is intended to frighten its audience. By using various elements, the filmmakers were able to successfully demonstrate this argument.

4 thoughts on “Analyzing Michael Crichton’s Wendol”

  1. Your an idiot who never heard of Ibn Fadlan… It’s not based on Beowolf. it’s a actual written account of a Traveler merchant from Iran.

  2. While I respect your opinion and value your interest in my blog, I must disagree with you, sir. Eaters of the Dead is a fictional piece, written entirely by the imagination of the late, great Michael Crichton. If you were to read the author’s note, you would realize that he composed this piece using actual historical figures, therefore adding credibility to his work. Crichton began writing EotD as a challenge; as a way to portray a realistic and possible version of the classic epic, Beowulf. By adding historical value, accompanied by geographical relevance and a series of factual footnotes throughout, Crichton was able to make the classic tale seem almost believable. That being said, I’m not disputing the existence of Ibn Fadlan or his travels, but I am disputing his encounter with a Nordic clan and their travels to a distant land to fight Neanderthals. Also, I took the liberty to edit your comment, removing grammatical errors, feel free to copy, paste and repost if you like:

    “You'(re) an idiot who (has never) heard of Ibn Fadlan; it is not based on Beowulf. (I)t’s a(n) actual written account of a (t)raveler merchant from Iran.”

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