Hermeneutics of Lack of Lack and the Dyad of the (m)Other and the Shared Other, in Zemeckis's Beowulf


NEOPHILOLOGUS, vol.102, no.2, pp.241-256, 2018 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 102 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s11061-018-9552-1
  • Journal Name: NEOPHILOLOGUS
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.241-256
  • Keywords: Lacan, Zemeckis, Beowulf, Grendel, Grendel's Mother
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Beowulf (2007), the film directed by Robert Zemeckis, retells the story in the Old English epic Beowulf with a shifting of perspective. While the epic looks at the conflict between Beowulf and Grendel from a patriarchal vantage point, the film offers a view of things from Grendel's Mother's perspective. In the film Grendel represents the return of the repressed violating the order of the symbolic in Heorot. Thus, Grendel's Mother appears as the subversive heroine who resists the humanizing/castrating elements in the symbolic and stands for the unsymbolised cause of desire. In the course of the film, she metamorphoses into the incarnation of the (m)Other, the discourse of the unconscious. The Kings, in the aftermath of their encounter with the (m)Other, betray what they represent in the epic and this time the roles are reversed as in their case the (m)Other conquers the representative of the paternal metaphor. In such a context, the film makes the (m)Other central to its account of culture and society, and it evacuates the male rationality and control in its patriarchal discourse. Due to the emphasis put on the (m)Other and the bankruptcy of the paternal metaphor, the internal and external otherness, and how the internal otherness determines the course of things in the symbolic, this article aims to offer a psychoanalytical reading of the film using Lacanian ideas as the conceptual backcloth.